Contribution of the amygdala, but not orbitofrontal or medial prefrontal cortices, to the expression of flavour preferences in marmoset monkeys

Carmen Agustin-Pavon, John Parkinson, Mei-See Man, Angela C. Roberts*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The development of food preferences contributes to a balanced diet, and involves both innate and learnt factors. By associating flavour cues with the reinforcing properties of the food (i.e. postingestive nutrient cues and innately preferred tastes, such as sweetness), animals acquire individual preferences. How the brain codes and guides selection when the subject has to choose between different palatable foods is little understood. To investigate this issue, we trained common marmoset monkeys (Callithrix jacchus) to respond to abstract visual patterns on a touch-sensitive computer screen to gain access to four different flavoured juices. After preferences were stable, animals received excitotoxic lesions of either the amygdala, the orbitofrontal cortex or the medial prefrontal cortex. Neither the orbitofrontal nor the medial prefrontal cortex lesions affected pre-surgery-expressed flavour preferences or the expression of preferences for novel flavours post-surgery. In contrast, amygdala lesions caused a shift in the preferences for juices expressed pre-surgery such that, post-surgery, juices were chosen according to their overall carbohydrate (simple sugars) content or 'sweetness'. Subsequent tests revealed that amygdala-lesioned animals only expressed juice preferences if they differed in 'sweetness'. Unlike controls, orbitofrontal cortex-lesioned and medial prefrontal cortex-lesioned animals, they were unable to display preferences between juices matched for 'sweetness' i.e. 5% sucrose solutions aromatised with different essential oils. The most parsimonious explanation is that the amygdala contributes to the expression of food preferences based on learnt cues but not those based on an innate preference for sweetness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1006-1017
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Volume34
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011

Keywords

  • CONDITIONED REINFORCEMENT
  • RHESUS-MONKEYS
  • BASOLATERAL AMYGDALA
  • EXCITOTOXIC LESIONS
  • FOOD PREFERENCE
  • FRONTAL-CORTEX
  • CALLITHRIX-JACCHUS
  • REWARD ASSESSMENT
  • OBJECT
  • TASTE

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