A new gustometer for taste testing in rodents

Alan C. Spector, Ginger D. Blonde, Ross P. Henderson, Yada Treesukosol, Paul Hendrick, Ryan Newsome, Fred H. Fletcher, Te Tang, James A. Donaldson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In recent years, to circumvent the interpretive limitations associated with intake tests commonly used to assess taste function in rodents, investigators have developed devices called gustometers to deliver small volumes of taste samples and measure immediate responses, thereby increasing confidence that the behavior of the animal is under orosensory control. Most of these gustometers can be used to measure unconditioned licking behavior to stimuli presented for short durations and/ or can be used to train the animal to respond to various fluid stimuli differentially so as to obtain a reward and/or avoid punishment. Psychometric sensitivity and discrimination functions can thus be derived. Here, we describe a new gustometer design, successfully used in behavioral experiments, that was guided by our experience with an older version used for over 2 decades. The new computer-controlled gustometer features no dead space in stimulus delivery lines, effective cleaning of the licking substrate, and the ability to measure licking without passing electrical current through the animal. The parts and dimensions are detailed, and the benefits and limitations of certain design features are discussed. Schematics for key circuits are provided as supplemental information. Accordingly, it should be possible to fabricate this device in a fashion customized for one's needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-196
Number of pages10
JournalChemical Senses
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Keywords

  • Gustatory system
  • Licking
  • Operant responding
  • Psychophysics
  • Rodents
  • Taste testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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  • Cite this

    Spector, A. C., Blonde, G. D., Henderson, R. P., Treesukosol, Y., Hendrick, P., Newsome, R., Fletcher, F. H., Tang, T., & Donaldson, J. A. (2015). A new gustometer for taste testing in rodents. Chemical Senses, 40(3), 187-196. https://doi.org/10.1093/chemse/bju072