Sweet taste liking is associated with subjective response to amphetamine in women but not men

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2017 Nov;234(21):3185-3194. doi: 10.1007/s00213-017-4702-x. Epub 2017 Jul 31.


Rationale and objective: Preference for sweet taste rewards has been linked to the propensity for drug use in both animals and humans. Here, we tested the association between sweet taste liking and sensitivity to amphetamine reward in healthy adults. We hypothesized that sweet likers would report greater euphoria and stimulation following D-amphetamine (20 mg) compared to sweet dislikers.

Methods: Men (n = 36) and women (n = 34) completed a sweet taste test in which they rated their liking of various concentrations of sucrose and filtered water (0.05, 0.10, 0.21, 0.42, and 0.83 M). Participants who preferred the highest concentration were classified as "sweet likers." All others were classified as "sweet dislikers." They then completed four sessions in which they received D-amphetamine (20 mg) and placebo in alternating order, providing self-report measures of euphoria and stimulation on the Addiction Research Center Inventory (ARCI) at regular intervals. We conducted linear mixed effects models to examine relationships between sweet liking and drug-induced euphoria and stimulation.

Results: Sweet likers reported significantly greater amphetamine-induced euphoria than did sweet dislikers among women. By contrast, sweet liking was not associated with amphetamine response in men. No associations with stimulation were observed.

Conclusion: The association between sweet preference and amphetamine response in women is consistent with animal studies linking sweet taste preference and drug reward and also fits with observations that individuals who use drugs show a preference for sweet tastes. Whether the sex difference is related to circulating hormones, or other variables, remains to be determined.

Keywords: Amphetamine; Drug reward; Sex differences; Subjective response; Sweet taste.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Animals
  • Arousal / drug effects*
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Dextroamphetamine / pharmacology*
  • Euphoria / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • Motivation / drug effects*
  • Reward*
  • Sex Factors
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Sucrose
  • Taste / drug effects*
  • Young Adult


  • Sucrose
  • Dextroamphetamine