Experience Informs Consummatory Choices for Congruent and Incongruent Odor-Taste Mixtures in Rats

Chem Senses. 2020 May 29;45(5):371-382. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjaa025.


Experience is an essential factor informing food choice. Eating food generates enduring odor-taste associations that link an odor with a taste's quality and hedonic value (pleasantness/unpleasantness) and creates the perception of a congruent odor-taste combination. Previous human psychophysical experiments demonstrate that experience with odor-taste mixtures shapes perceptual judgments related to the intensity, familiarity, and pleasantness of chemosensory stimuli. However, how these perceptual judgments inform consummatory choice is less clear. Using rats as a model system and a 2-bottle brief-access task, we investigated how experience with palatable and unpalatable odor-taste mixtures influences consummatory choice related to odor-taste congruence and stimulus familiarity. We found that the association between an odor and a taste, not the odor's identity or its congruence with a taste, informs consummatory choice for odor-taste mixtures. Furthermore, we showed that the association between an odor and a taste, not odor neophobia, informs consummatory choice for odors dissolved in water. Our results provide further evidence that the association between an odor and a taste, after odor-taste mixture experience, is a fundamental feature guiding consummatory choice.

Keywords: choice; consummatory behavior; flavor; odor–taste association; preference.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Female
  • Food Preferences*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Taste / physiology*