Separable substrates for anticipatory and consummatory food chemosensation

Neuron. 2008 Mar 13;57(5):786-97. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.01.021.


Perception of the smell of a food precedes its ingestion and perception of its flavor. The neurobiological underpinnings of this association are not well understood. Of central interest is whether the same neural circuits code for anticipatory and consummatory phases. Here, we show that the amygdala and mediodorsal thalamus respond preferentially to food odors that predict immediate arrival of their associated drink (FO+) compared to food odors that predict delivery of a tasteless solution (FO-) and compared to the receipt of the drink. In contrast, the left insula/operculum responds preferentially to the drink, whereas the right insula/operculum and left orbitofrontal cortex respond to FO+ and drink. These findings indicate separable and overlapping representation of anticipatory and consummatory chemosensation. Moreover, since ratings of perceived pleasantness of FO+, FO-, and drink were similar, the response in the amygdala and thalamus cannot reflect acquired affective value but rather predictive meaning or biological relevance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Female
  • Food*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology
  • Smell / physiology
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Taste / physiology