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So close, rats can almost taste it

Study shows how animals may remember and find their way back to food sources

Society for Neuroscience

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IMAGE: Figure 1. A, A portion of the timeline of an example taste delivery experiment. Colored bars indicate 900 individual deliveries of taste stimuli: green (S, 4 mM saccharin), yellow (N, 100... view more 

Credit: Herzog et al., JNeurosci (2019)

A subset of neurons in the hippocampus respond to both place and taste, according to research in male rats published in JNeurosci. The study shows how animals may remember and find their way back to locations where they previously found nourishment.

Although the hippocampus is connected to parts of the brain's taste system and active during taste discrimination tasks, its role in taste-processing has remained a mystery.

Shantanu Jadhav and Donald Katz, with graduate student Linnea Herzog and colleagues, randomly delivered four different tastes (sweet, salty, neutral, and bitter) to rats as they explored their environment. Recordings of individual hippocampal neurons revealed that about 20 percent of these cells were responsive to the palatability of taste stimuli. Of these, place cells responded to taste only in the location where the taste was delivered. These results suggest the hippocampus overlays existing mental maps with information about the reward and hazard derived from food found in particular locations.

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Article: Interaction of taste and place coding in the hippocampus*

DOI: https://www.jneurosci.org/lookup/doi/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2478-18.2019

Corresponding authors: Shantanu Jadhav, shantanu@brandeis.edu and Donald Katz, dbkatz@brandeis.edu (Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, USA)

*A preprint of this manuscript has been posted on bioRxiv: https://doi.org/10.1101/431353

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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