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Got taste?
Date:12/22/2009

ingly, the rats whose taste cortex was knocked out again the next day preferred the chow that they had experienced in an altered state, with no taste cortex.

"We discovered in this experiment that the sensory systems don't work in isolation from each other, said Katz. "One part of the cortex takes direct input from the nose, and one part from the tongue, and while it's convenient to think that the nose and taste receptors operate independently, they don't."

Katz actually tested two possible explanations for the basic result: First, taste cortex might be an integral component of how the animal processes smells. Alternatively, it might be that taste cortex changes, or modulates, olfactory circuits rather than coding them, fundamentally changing perception of smell at that point in time. Such "incorrect" memories of smell apparently last across at least a week of the rats' lives, and perhaps forever.

The Katz lab is now using brain recordings to pinpoint which parts of the olfactory system are affected when taste cortex is silenced, and to characterize the nature of the interaction between the taste and smell systems during feeding.

"I am hoping that ultimately this discovery will help drive us to an entirely different approach to brain function," said Katz. "It doesn't make sense to probe one system separately from the other. Just like in a chorus, you can't appreciate the fullness of the music if you hear only the bass or the tenor in isolation."


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Contact: Laura Gardner
gardner@brandeis.edu
781-736-4204
Brandeis University
Source:Eurekalert

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