LiCl-induced flavor avoidance compared between rats and mice using a nondeprivation protocol

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2004 Feb;286(2):R260-8. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00312.2003. Epub 2003 Oct 16.


The present studies examine some parameters involved in flavor avoidance learning, using LiCl to induce malaise, in a novel nondeprivation protocol that allows direct comparison between rats and mice. The procedure involves daily presentation of a gelatin dessert that contains carbohydrate (Polycose) and a distinctive food flavor. Regular chow is additionally available at all times. Both rats and mice showed robust intakes of these gels with little change of gram intake as concentration of Polycose was varied in the range 2-30%; at the highest concentration, the caloric yield was approximately 7% of normal daily intake in both species. Rats that were injected on three occasions with LiCl (0.75 meq/kg) 1 h after consumption of a flavored gel formed a complete and sustained conditioned flavor avoidance (CFA). In a two-flavor discrimination protocol, in which a second flavor was followed by injections of saline, rats showed complete avoidance of the LiCl-paired flavor and partial avoidance of the saline-paired flavor. Mice injected on three occasions with LiCl (6 meq/kg) 1 h after intake of a flavored gel formed a partial CFA; a more complete CFA was formed when there was no delay between removal of the flavor and the injection. Using this no-delay protocol, mice, like rats, showed avoidance of a saline-paired flavor in a two-flavor discrimination protocol, and the CFA was strong when the dose of LiCl was reduced to that used in rats (0.75 meq/kg). In comparable protocols, mice thus are able to form complete CFAs using low doses of LiCl that are comparable to CFAs observed in rats, but the interval between flavor and sickness over which associative learning can occur may be shorter in mice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning*
  • Conditioning, Psychological
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Eating
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Lithium Chloride / administration & dosage
  • Lithium Chloride / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Taste*


  • Lithium Chloride