Neuronal representations of stimuli in the mouth: the primate insular taste cortex, orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala

Chem Senses. 2005 Jun;30(5):401-19. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bji036. Epub 2005 Apr 13.


The responses of 3687 neurons in the macaque primary taste cortex in the insula/frontal operculum, orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and amygdala to oral sensory stimuli reveals principles of representation in these areas. Information about the taste, texture of what is in the mouth (viscosity, fat texture and grittiness, which reflect somatosensory inputs), temperature and capsaicin is represented in all three areas. In the primary taste cortex, taste and viscosity are more likely to activate different neurons, with more convergence onto single neurons particularly in the OFC and amygdala. The different responses of different OFC neurons to different combinations of these oral sensory stimuli potentially provides a basis for different behavioral responses. Consistently, the mean correlations between the representations of the different stimuli provided by the population of OFC neurons were lower (0.71) than for the insula (0.81) and amygdala (0.89). Further, the encoding was more sparse in the OFC (0.67) than in the insula (0.74) and amygdala (0.79). The insular neurons did not respond to olfactory and visual stimuli, with convergence occurring in the OFC and amygdala. Human psychophysics showed that the sensory spaces revealed by multidimensional scaling were similar to those provided by the neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Capsaicin
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Fatty Acids
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology
  • Psychophysics
  • Psychophysiology / methods
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology


  • Fatty Acids
  • Capsaicin