Hunger and satiety modify the responses of olfactory and visual neurons in the primate orbitofrontal cortex

J Neurophysiol. 1996 Apr;75(4):1673-86. doi: 10.1152/jn.1996.75.4.1673.


1. The primate orbitofrontal cortex is the site of convergence of information from primary taste and primary olfactory cortical regions. In addition, it receives projections from temporal lobe visual areas concerned with the representation of objects such as foods. Previous work has shown that the responses of gustatory neurons in the secondary taste area within the orbitofrontal cortex are modulated by hunger and satiety, in that they stop responding to the taste of a food on which an animal has been fed to behavioral satiation, yet may continue to respond to the taste of other foods. 2. This study demonstrates a similar modulation of the responses of olfactory and visual orbitofrontal cortex neurons after feeding to satiety. Seven of nine olfactory neurons that were responsive to the odors of foods, such as blackcurrant juice, were found to decrease their responses to the odor of the satiating food in a selective and statistically significant manner. 3. It also was found for eight of nine neurons that had selective responses to the sight of food, that they demonstrated a sensory-specific reduction in their visual responses to foods after satiation. 4. The responses of orbitofrontal cortex neurons selective for foods in more than one modality also were analyzed before and after feeding to satiation. Satiety often affected the responses of these multimodal neurons across all modalities, but a sensory-specific effect was not always demonstrable for both modalities. 5. These findings show that the olfactory and visual representations of food, as well as the taste representation of food, in the primate orbitofrontal cortex are modulated by hunger. Usually a component related to sensory-specific satiety can be demonstrated. The findings link at least part of the processing of olfactory and visual information in this brain region to the control of feeding-related behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / cytology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Hunger / physiology*
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Odorants
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology*
  • Satiety Response / physiology*
  • Taste / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*