Role of gustatory thalamus in anticipation and comparison of rewards over time in rats

Pearl Lee Schroy, Robert A. Wheeler, Collin Davidson, Giuseppe Scalera, Robert C. Twining, Patricia S. Grigson

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Rats reduce intake of a palatable saccharin solution when it is followed by access to a preferred sucrose solution. This phenomenon, referred to as an anticipatory contrast effect (ACE), is thought to occur because the value of the saccharin conditioned stimulus pales in comparison to the highly rewarding sucrose unconditioned stimulus expected in the near future. Although relatively little is known about the underlying neural substrates, lesions of the gustatory thalamus fully disrupt the phenomenon (Reilly S, Bornovalova M, and Trifunovic R. Behav Neurosci 118: 365-376, 2004; Reilly S and Pritchard TC. Behav Neurosci 110: 746-759, 1996), The present set of experiments revisited this issue to determine the nature of this deficit. Rats with bilateral ibotenic acid lesions of the gustatory thalamus were given 3-min access to 0.15% saccharin and, after a 0-s or 5-min interval, were given 3-min access to either the same saccharin solution or a highly preferred 1.0 M sucrose solution. In experiment 1, ACE testing began with the 5-min interstimulus interval (ISI) and then switched to the 0-s ISI. For experiment 2, the order of ISI testing was reversed. The results show that axon-sparing, neurotoxic lesions of the gustatory thalamus prevent ACEs with a 0-s ISI and lead to a reversal (i.e., a reinforcement effect) with a 5-min ISI. Together, the results suggest that the lesion leads to a specific reward comparison deficit, whereby the rats fail to compare the value of an available reward with the memory of a preferred reward that is anticipated in the near future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R966-R980
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number4 57-4
StatePublished - Apr 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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