Taste avoidance and taste aversion: evidence for two different processes

Learn Behav. 2003 May;31(2):165-72. doi: 10.3758/bf03195979.


The terms conditioned taste avoidance and conditioned taste aversion are often used interchangeably in the literature; however, considerable evidence indicates that they may represent different processes. Conditioned taste avoidance is measured by the amount that a rat consumes in a consumption test that includes both appetitive phases and consummatory phases of responding. However, conditioned taste aversion is more directly assessed with the taste reactivity test, which includes only the consummatory phase of responding. Rats display a conditioned taste aversion as conditioned rejection reactions (gapes, chin rubs, and paw treads) during an intraoral infusion of a nausea-paired flavored solution. Treatments that produce nausea are not necessary for the establishment of taste avoidance, but they are necessary for the establishment of taste aversion. Furthermore, treatments that alleviate nausea modulate neither the establishment nor the expression of taste avoidance, but they interfere with both the establishment and the expression of taste aversion. Considerable evidence exists indicating that these two measures are independent of one another. Taste avoidance may be motivated by conditioned fear rather than conditioned nausea, but taste aversion (as reflected by rejection reactions) may be motivated by conditioned nausea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology*
  • Mental Processes
  • Rats
  • Rejection, Psychology
  • Taste / physiology*