Conditioned changes in appetitive and consummatory responses to flavors paired with oral or nutrient reinforcement among adult rats.
Recent studies of the behavioral organization of conditioned flavor preferences have suggested the involvement of at least two separate learning systems-an appetitive response system sensitive to the oral hedonic properties of the reinforcer, and a consummatory response system sensitive to its nutrient properties. However, these prior studies were conducted with weanling rats, that differ from adults in terms of their prior experience with food, their learning competencies, and the peculiar ontogenetic constraints on their behavior. It is, therefore, unknown whether flavor preference behaviors are similarly organized in adult rats. In this experiment, adult rats were trained to associate a specific CS flavor with either the sweet taste or the postingestive nutrient effects of sucrose. Conditioned appetitive orienting and consummatory oral responding to the CS flavors were then measured. Unlike weanling rats, adult rats exhibited both conditioned appetitive behavior and conditioned consummatory behavior in response a CS that was previously paired with either oral hedonic or nutrient reinforcement. These results suggest a set of important developmental changes in the neurobehavioral mechanisms of flavor preference learning in the postweaning period.
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