Temporal coding in the gustatory system

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2006;30(8):1145-60. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2006.07.005. Epub 2006 Sep 18.


Early investigations of temporal coding in the gustatory system showed that the time course of responses in some neurons showed systematic differences across the various classes of taste stimuli, implying that the temporal characteristics of a response can convey information about a taste stimulus. Studies of temporal coding in the gustatory system have grappled with several unique methodological challenges, including the quantitative description and comparison of temporal patterns as well as the assessment of the relative contributions of spatial and temporal coding to the information contained in a response to a tastant. Other investigations have suggested that the cooperative activity among synchronously firing ensembles of taste-responsive neurons at all levels of processing in the brain can convey information about taste quality (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami). Behavioral studies using patterned electrical stimulation of the brain in awake animals have supported the idea that temporal coding of taste stimuli may have functional significance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / cytology*
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Taste / physiology*