Primate insular/opercular taste cortex: neuronal representations of the viscosity, fat texture, grittiness, temperature, and taste of foods.
Verhagen JV., Kadohisa M., Rolls ET.
It is shown that the primate primary taste cortex represents not only taste but also information about many nontaste properties of oral stimuli. Of 1,122 macaque anterior insular/frontal opercular neurons recorded, 62 (5.5%) responded to oral stimuli. Of the orally responsive neurons, some (53%) represented the viscosity, tested using carboxymethyl-cellulose in the range 1-10,000 cP. Other neurons (8%) responded to fat in the mouth by encoding its texture (as shown similar responses to nonfat oils), and 8% responded to gritty texture. Some neurons (35%) responded to the temperature of the liquid in the mouth. Some neurons responded to capsaicin, and others to fatty acids. Some neurons (56%) had taste responses. Some (50%) of these neurons were unimodal, responding to one of these types of stimulus, and the majority combined responsiveness to these types of stimulus, with 23% responding for example to both taste and temperature. Some neurons respond to taste, texture, and temperature unimodally, but others combine these inputs. None of these orally responsive neurons responded to odor or to the sight of food. These results provide fundamental evidence about the information channels used to represent the taste, texture, and temperature of food in the first cortical area involved in taste in the primate brain. The results are relevant to understanding the physiological and pathophysiological processes related to how the properties of oral stimuli are represented in the brain and thus to the control of food intake and food selection.