An appetitively conditioned taste elicits a preferential increase in mesolimbic dopamine release

Gregory P. Mark, Sabrina E. Smith, Pedro V. Rada, Bartley G. Hoebel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Rats were prepared with intragastric (IG) cannulae for infusing a nutrient into the stomach and microdialysis guide shafts in the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and striatum (STR) for measuring changes in extracellular dopamine. Prior to dialysis, subjects were trained to prefer the mildly bitter taste of sucrose octaacetate (SOA; CS+) by pairing voluntary intake with automatic IG infusions of nutritive polycose. The mildly sour taste of citric acid (CS-) was paired with IG water infusions as a control. Unconditioned animals received four exposures to SOA and citric acid on counterbalanced, alternating days. After training, dialysis samples were collected every 30 min before, during, and after intake of the CS+ or CS- in response to 14 h water deprivation on counterbalanced, consecutive days. Voluntary intake of the CS+ for 30 min significantly increased extracellular DA in the NAC but not in the STR of conditioned subjects. Intake of the CS- did not alter DA efflux at either site. Unconditioned, control rats also showed no DA response to either taste. These results show selective activation of the mesolimbic dopaminergic projection system as a consequence of a conditioned taste stimulus paired with a nutritive gastric load. This suggests that conditioned DA release may play a role in learned ingestive behavior based on the postingestive effects of food.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-660
Number of pages10
JournalPharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1994


  • Conditioned taste preference
  • Dopamine
  • Intragastric
  • Microdialysis
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Rat
  • Striatum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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