Extensive Gustatory Cortex Lesions Significantly Impair Taste Sensitivity to KCl and Quinine but Not to Sucrose in Rats

PLoS One. 2015 Nov 23;10(11):e0143419. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0143419. eCollection 2015.


Recently, we reported that large bilateral gustatory cortex (GC) lesions significantly impair taste sensitivity to salts in rats. Here we extended the tastants examined to include sucrose and quinine in rats with ibotenic acid-induced lesions in GC (GCX) and in sham-operated controls (SHAM). Presurgically, immediately after drinking NaCl, rats received a LiCl or saline injection (i.p.), but postsurgical tests indicated a weak conditioned taste aversion (CTA) even in controls. The rats were then trained and tested in gustometers to discriminate a tastant from water in a two-response operant taste detection task. Psychometric functions were derived for sucrose, KCl, and quinine. Our mapping system was used to determine placement, size, and symmetry of the lesions (~91% GC damage on average). For KCl, there was a significant rightward shift (ΔEC50 = 0.57 log10 units; p<0.001) in the GCX psychometric function relative to SHAM, replicating our prior work. There was also a significant lesion-induced impairment (ΔEC50 = 0.41 log10 units; p = 0.006) in quinine sensitivity. Surprisingly, taste sensitivity to sucrose was unaffected by the extensive lesions and was comparable between GCX and SHAM rats. The fact that such large bilateral GC lesions did not shift sucrose psychometric functions relative to SHAM, but did significantly compromise quinine and KCl sensitivity suggests that the neural circuits responsible for the detection of specific taste stimuli are partially dissociable. Lesion-induced impairments were observed in expression of a postsurgical CTA to a maltodextrin solution as assessed in a taste-oriented brief-access test, but were not reflected in a longer term 46-h two-bottle test. Thus, deficits observed in rats after extensive damage to the GC are also dependent on the test used to assess taste function. In conclusion, the degree to which the GC is necessary for the maintenance of normal taste detectability apparently depends on the chemical and/or perceptual features of the stimulus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anatomic Landmarks
  • Anatomy, Artistic
  • Animals
  • Atlases as Topic
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / surgery
  • Conditioning, Classical
  • Male
  • Potassium Chloride / pharmacology*
  • Quinine / pharmacology*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sodium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Sucrose / pharmacology*
  • Taste / drug effects
  • Taste / physiology*


  • Sodium Chloride
  • Sucrose
  • Potassium Chloride
  • Quinine