Neural substrates for the processing of cognitive and affective aspects of taste in the brain

Arch Histol Cytol. 2006 Dec;69(4):243-55. doi: 10.1679/aohc.69.243.


Taste is unique among the sensory systems in that, besides its recognition of quality, it is innately associated with hedonic aspects of reward and aversion. This review of the literature will show how taste information is conveyed through the central gustatory pathways to the cortical gustatory area and is processed in terms of qualitative and quantitative aspects. Taste information is also sent to the reward system and feeding center via several brain sites including the prefrontal cortex, insular cortex, and amygdala. The reward system contains the ventral tegmental area, nucleus accumbens, and ventral pallidum; it finally sends information to the lateral hypothalamic area, the feeding center. The dopamine system originating from the ventral tegmental area mediates the motivation to consume palatable food. The actual ingestive behavior is promoted by the orexigenic neuropeptides from the hypothalamus. In the last section, the neural substrate of learning and memory of taste is introduced and the biological mechanisms are elucidated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Affect / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Food Preferences
  • Haplorhini
  • Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Rats
  • Reward
  • Taste / physiology*