Responses of the Rat Chorda Tympani Nerve to Glutamate–Sucrose Mixtures

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Monosodium glutamate (MSG) has a multifaceted, unusual taste to humans. Rats and other rodents also detect a complex taste to MSG. Responses of the chorda tympani nerve (CT) to glutamate applied to the front of the tongue were recorded in 13 anesthetized rats. Whole-nerve responses to 30 mM, 100 mM and 300 mM MSG mixed with 300 mM sucrose were recorded before and after adding 30 µM amiloride to the rinse and stimulus solutions. Responses of CT single fibers were also recorded. Predictions from models of whole-nerve responses to binary mixtures were compared to the observed data. Results indicated that MSG-elicited CT responses have multiple sources, even in an amiloride-inhibited environment in rats. Those sources include responses of sucrose-sensitive CT neural units, which may provide the substrate for a sucrose-glutamate perceptual similarity, and responses of sucrose-insensitive CT neural units, which may respond synergistically to MSG–sucrose mixtures.

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