Conditioned Hedonic Responses Elicited by Contextual Cues Paired With Nausea or With Internal Pain

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Pairing a taste with either internal pain or nausea, despite equivalent effects on voluntary consumption, has dissociable effects on hedonic responses: Only pairing with nausea results in the production of disgust reactions, while pairing with internal pain results in conditioned fear as indicated by immobility. Here, we use orofacial reactions to examine the hedonic responses elicited by contextual, nonflavor, cues paired with nausea produced by injection of lithium chloride (LiCl) or internal pain caused by injection of hypertonic saline. In Experiment 1, aversive orofacial responses were the specific context-elicited behaviors in the rats injected with LiCl, whereas immobility was seen in the animals injected with hypertonic saline. In Experiment 2, rats first received discriminative training with two contexts, where one context was paired with LiCl or hypertonic saline, and the other context with isotonic saline. After this, rats were intraorally infused with a flavor (conditioned stimulus (CS)+) in the paired context, and with a different flavor (CS−) in the unpaired context. Second-order conditioning was then examined in a test conducted in the unpaired context. The infusion of the CS+ flavor produced aversive orofacial responses in the rats injected with LiCl but immobility in the subjects injected with hypertonic saline. The results suggest that nonflavor cues support conditioned hedonic responses in the same way as flavor cues, which implies that the quality of aversion learning (conditioned nausea vs. fear) is primarily determined by the nature of the aversive event and not the type of conditioned cue.

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