Taste and odor recognition memory: the emotional flavor of life

Rev Neurosci. 2012;23(5-6):481-99. doi: 10.1515/revneuro-2012-0064.


In recent years, our knowledge of the neurobiology of taste and smell has greatly increased; by using several learning models, we now have a better understanding of the behavioral and neurochemical basis of memory recognition. Studies have provided new evidence of some processes that depend on prior experience with the specific combination of sensory stimuli. This review contains recent research related to taste and odor recognition memory, and the goal is to highlight the role of two prominent brain structures, the insular cortex and the amygdala. These structures have an important function during learning and memory and have been associated with the differences in learning induced by the diverse degrees of emotion during taste/odor memory formation, either aversive or appetitive or when taste and odor are combined and/or potentiated.Therefore, this review includes information about certain neurochemical transmitters and their interactions during appetitive or aversive taste memory formation,taste-potentiated odor aversion memory, and conditioned odor aversion, which might be able to maintain the complex processes necessary for flavor recognition memory.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Odorants*
  • Olfactory Pathways
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Taste / physiology*