Gustatory responses in the nucleus tractus solitarius of the alert cynomolgus monkey

J Neurophysiol. 1986 Jan;55(1):182-200. doi: 10.1152/jn.1986.55.1.182.


Multiunit and single neuron responses to taste stimuli in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) of alert cynomolgus monkeys were analyzed. Intensity-response functions, including neural thresholds to glucose and quinine HCl, agreed well with psychophysical reports, implying that the cynomolgus monkey and human share the same dynamic range of sensitivity to prototypical taste stimuli. The NTS is chemotopically organized: neurons most responsive to HCl are more common in the posterior gustatory area, whereas those most responsive to glucose and NaCl are located in the anterior NTS. Responsiveness to quinine is more widely distributed but tends toward the anterior. Efforts were made to determine if neurons could be divided into a discrete number of types, as determined by their sensitivities to the prototypical stimuli. The clearest distinction was between those that did or did not respond well to HCl. Beyond this, neuronal categories were not obvious. Individual neurons were quite broadly sensitive to our stimulus array, so that, for the typical NTS cell, no one of the four prototypes evoked a majority of the discharges. This extreme breadth of tuning suggests that taste-quality information in the monkey might be incorporated in relative discharge rates across the neuron population. Correlations among patterns of activity to the four prototypical stimuli indicated that only HCl and quinine HCl have closely related taste qualities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Drinking Behavior
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Facial Nerve / physiology*
  • Fruit
  • Glossopharyngeal Nerve / physiology*
  • Glucose
  • Hydrochloric Acid
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Quinine
  • Taste*
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology*
  • Wakefulness


  • Quinine
  • Glucose
  • Hydrochloric Acid