When rats lick a bitter taste solution such as quinine-hydrochloride, they secrete profuse amounts of saliva. The salivation has a higher flow rate than that induced by other qualities of taste stimulation: sweet, salty, and sour. The present study is aimed to clarify the neural mechanism of the quinine-evoked salivation by means of behavioral, neuroanatomical, and electrophysiological experiments. Behaviorally, submandibular salivary secretion and rejection behavior (gaping) were observed in normal rats, as well as in rats chronically decerebrated at the precollicular level. In chronically decerebrate rats, these quinine-evoked reactions were strongly suppressed by destruction of the medial part of the parabrachial nucleus, including the so-called taste area, and ventral part of the parabrachial nucleus, including the pontine reticular formation. Neuroanatomical study using a retrograde tracer, Fluoro-gold, revealed that the neurons sending their axons to the superior salivatory nucleus, parasympathetic secretory center, were located mainly in the pontine reticular formation ventral to the parabrachial nucleus, not in the parabrachial taste area. Extracellular neural activity was recorded from the parabrachial region in decerebrate rats, and responsiveness to taste stimulation, jaw movements, and electrical stimulation of the superior salivatory nucleus was examined. Neurons responsive to both taste stimulation and antidromic stimulation of the superior salivatory nucleus were found in the pontine reticular formation ventral to the parabrachial nucleus, which responded well to quinine and HCl taste stimuli. Neurons in the parabrachial taste area could respond to four qualities of taste stimulation, but not to antidromic stimulation of the salivary center. These results suggest that aversive taste information from the parabrachial taste area reaches the salivary secretory center via the reticular formation ventral to the parabrachial nucleus.
- Parabrachial nucleus
- Salivary secretion
- Salivatory nucleus
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems