Behavioral and neural gustatory responses in rabbit

Robert J. Contreras, Edythe Bird, Donald J. Weisz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


To provide more information on a potentially valuable preparation for studies in taste and appetite, we have examined the taste preferences (and aversions) and chorda tympani sensitivity of the rabbit. Adult male New Zealand rabbits were given a two-bottle preference test between water and various molar concentrations of NaCl, KCl, sucrose, sodium saccharin, quinine hydrochloride and HCl. The rabbits exhibited the expected preferences for sucrose and aversions for quinine and HCl. Unexpectedly, however, the rabbits exhibited only a mild preference for NaCl, a stronger preference for KCl, and an aversion to sodium saccharin. Multiunit discharges of the chorda tympani nerve to the same taste stimuli indicated that the anterior tongue receptors are acutely sensitive to KCl, NaCl and quinine, but not to sucrose, HCl and saccharin. The chorda tympani was more responsive to KCl than to NaCl. Dilute concentrations of both NaCl and sodium saccharin elicited a two-component response consisting of an immediate excitatory phase followed by a tonic inhibitory phase. This complex response pattern of the whole nerve to NaCl and sodium saccharin is discussed in relation to the impulse frequencies in hypothesized water-sensitive and salt-sensitive fibers. Both the behavioral and neural data are discussed in relation to similar data obtained in rat and hamster.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-768
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1985
Externally publishedYes


  • Chorda tympani sensitivity
  • Fluid intake
  • Rabbit
  • Taste preferences
  • Whole nerve recording


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