The association between a taste and gastric malaise allows animals to avoid the ingestion of potentially toxic food. This association has been termed conditioned taste aversion (CTA) and relies on the activity of key brain structures such as the amygdala and the insular cortex. The establishment of this gustatory-avoidance memory is related to glutamatergic and noradrenergic activity within the amygdala during two crucial events: gastric malaise (unconditioned stimulus, US) and the post-acquisition spontaneous activity related to the association of both stimuli. To understand the functional implications of these neurochemical changes on avoidance memory formation, we assessed the effects of pharmacological stimulation of β-adrenergic and glutamatergic NMDA receptors through the administration of a mixture of L-homocysteic acid and isoproterenol into the amygdala after saccharin exposure on specific times to emulate the US and post-acquisition local signals that would be occurring naturally under CTA training. Our results show that activation of NMDA and β-adrenergic receptors generated a long-term avoidance response to saccharin, like a naturally induced rejection with LiCl. Moreover, the behavioral outcome was accompanied by changes in glutamate, norepinephrine and dopamine levels within the insular cortex, analogous to those displayed during memory retrieval of taste aversion memory. Therefore, we suggest that taste avoidance memory can be induced artificially through the emulation of specific amygdalar neurochemical signals, promoting changes in the amygdala-insular cortex circuit enabling memory establishment.
Última actualización: 12/08/2020