Journal of neurophysiology

Influence of stimulus and oral adaptation temperature on gustatory responses in central taste-sensitive neurons.

PMID 25673737


The temperature of taste stimuli can modulate gustatory processing. Perceptual data indicate that the adapted temperature of oral epithelia also influences gustation, although little is known about the neural basis of this effect. Here, we electrophysiologically recorded orosensory responses (spikes) to 25°C (cool) and 35°C (warm) solutions of sucrose (0.1 and 0.3 M), NaCl (0.004, 0.1, and 0.3 M), and water from taste-sensitive neurons in the nucleus of the solitary tract in mice under varied thermal adaptation of oral epithelia. Conditions included presentation of taste stimuli isothermal to adaptation temperatures of 25°C (constant cooling) and 35°C (constant warming), delivery of 25°C stimuli following 35°C adaptation (relative cooling), and presentation of 35°C stimuli following 25°C adaptation (relative warming). Responses to sucrose in sucrose-oriented cells (n = 15) were enhanced under the constant and relative warming conditions compared with constant cooling, where contiguous cooling across adaptation and stimulus periods induced the lowest and longest latency responses to sucrose. Yet compared with constant warming, cooling sucrose following warm adaptation (relative cooling) only marginally reduced activity to 0.1 M sucrose and did not alter responses to 0.3 M sucrose. Thus, warmth adaptation counteracted the attenuation in sucrose activity associated with stimulus cooling. Analysis of sodium-oriented (n = 25) neurons revealed adaptation to cool water, and cooling taste solutions enhanced unit firing to 0.004 M (perithreshold) NaCl, whereas warmth adaptation and stimulus warming could facilitate activity to 0.3 M NaCl. The concentration dependence of this thermal effect may reflect a dual effect of temperature on the sodium reception mechanism that drives sodium-oriented cells.