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Variability in responses and temporal coding of tastants of similar quality in the nucleus of the solitary tract of the rat.

Authors
  • Roussin, Andre T
  • Victor, Jonathan D
  • Chen, Jen-Yung
  • Di Lorenzo, Patricia M
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of neurophysiology
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2008
Volume
99
Issue
2
Pages
644–655
Identifiers
PMID: 17913985
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

In the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS), electrophysiological responses to taste stimuli representing four basic taste qualities (sweet, sour, salty, or bitter) can often be discriminated by spike count, although in units for which the number of spikes is variable across identical stimulus presentations, spike timing (i.e., temporal coding) can also support reliable discrimination. The present study examined the contribution of spike count and spike timing to the discrimination of stimuli that evoke the same taste quality but are of different chemical composition. Responses to between 3 and 21 repeated presentations of two pairs of quality-matched tastants were recorded from 38 single cells in the NTS of urethane-anesthetized rats. Temporal coding was assessed in 24 cells, most of which were tested with salty and sour tastants, using an information-theoretic approach. Within a given cell, responses to tastants of similar quality were generally closer in magnitude than responses to dissimilar tastants; however, tastants of similar quality often reversed their order of effectiveness across replicate sets of trials. Typically, discrimination between tastants of dissimilar qualities could be made by spike count. Responses to tastants of similar quality typically evoked more similar response magnitudes but were more frequently, and to a proportionally greater degree, distinguishable based on temporal information. Results showed that nearly every taste-responsive NTS cell has the capacity to generate temporal features in evoked spike trains that can be used to distinguish between stimuli of different qualities and chemical compositions.

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