Cortical activation in response to pure taste stimuli during the physiological states of hunger and satiety

Neuroimage. 2009 Feb 1;44(3):1008-21. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.09.044. Epub 2008 Oct 15.


This event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (er-fMRI) study investigated BOLD signal change in response to a series of pure gustatory stimuli that varied in stimulus quality when subjects were hungry and sated with a nutritional pre-load. Group analyses showed significant differences in activation in the hunger minus satiety condition in response to sucrose, caffeine, saccharin, and citric acid within the thalamus, hippocampus, and parahippocampus. When examining the hunger and satiety conditions, activation varied as a function of stimulus, with the majority of the stimuli exhibiting significantly greater activation in the hunger state within the insula, thalamus, and substantia nigra, in contrast to decreased activation in the satiated state within the parahippocampus, hippocampus, amygdala, and anterior cingulate. Region of interest (ROI) analysis revealed two significant interactions, ROI by physiology and ROI by physiology by stimulus. In the satiety condition, the primary (inferior and superior insulae) and secondary (OFC 11 and OFC 47) taste regions exhibited significantly greater brain activation in response to all stimuli than regions involved in processing eating behavior (hypothalamus), affect (amygdala), and memory (hippocampus, parahippocampus and entorhinal cortex). These same regions demonstrated significantly greater activation within the hunger condition than the satiety condition, with the exception of the superior insula. Furthermore, the patterns of activation differed as a function taste stimulus, with greater activation in response to sucrose than to the other stimuli. These differential patterns of activation suggest that the physiological states of hunger and satiety produce divergent activation in multiple brain areas in response to different pure gustatory stimuli.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hunger / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Physical Stimulation / methods*
  • Satiety Response / physiology*
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Young Adult