Processing of hedonic and chemosensory features of taste in medial prefrontal and insular networks

Ahmad Jezzini, Luca Mazzucato, Giancarlo La Camera, Alfredo Fontanini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Most of the research on cortical processing of taste has focused on either the primary gustatory cortex (GC) or the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). However, these are not the only areas involved in taste processing. Gustatory information can also reach another frontal region, the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), via direct projections from GC. mPFC has been studied extensively in relation to its role in controlling goal-directed action and reward-guided behaviors, yet very little is known about its involvement in taste coding. The experiments presented here address this important point and test whether neurons inmPFCcan significantly process the physiochemical and hedonic dimensions of taste. Spiking responses to intraorally delivered tastants were recorded from rats implanted with bundles of electrodes in mPFC and GC. Analysis of single-neuron and ensemble activity revealed similarities and differences between the two areas. Neurons in mPFC can encode the chemosensory identity of gustatory stimuli. However, responses in mPFC are sparser, more narrowly tuned, and have a later onset than in GC. Although taste quality is more robustly represented in GC, taste palatability is coded equally well in the two areas. Additional analysis of responses in neurons processing the hedonic value of taste revealed differences between the two areas in temporal dynamics and sensitivities to palatability. These results add mPFC to the network of areas involved in processing gustatory stimuli and demonstrate significant differences in taste-coding between GC and mPFC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18966-18978
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number48
StatePublished - 2013


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