Gustatory reward and the nucleus accumbens

R. Norgren, A. Hajnal, S. S. Mungarndee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


The concept of reward is central to psychology, but remains a cipher for neuroscience. Considerable evidence implicates dopamine in the process of reward and much of the data derives from the nucleus accumbens. Gustatory stimuli are widely used for animal studies of reward, but the connections between the taste and reward systems are unknown. In a series of experiments, our laboratory has addressed this issue using functional neurochemistry and neuroanatomy. First, using microdialysis probes, we demonstrated that sapid sucrose releases dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. The effect is dependent on oral stimulation and concentration. We subsequently determined that this response was independent of the thalamocortical gustatory system, but substantially blunted by damage to the parabrachial limbic taste projection. Further experiments using c-fos histochemistry confirmed that the limbic pathway was the prime carrier for the gustatory afferent activity that drives accumbens dopamine release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-535
Number of pages5
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 30 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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