Altering expectancy dampens neural response to aversive taste in primary taste cortex

Jack B. Nitschke, Gregory E. Dixon, Issidoros Sarinopoulos, Sarah J. Short, Jonathan D. Cohen, Edward E. Smith, Stephen M. Kosslyn, Robert M. Rose, Richard J. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

163 Scopus citations


The primary taste cortex consists of the insula and operculum. Previous work has indicated that neurons in the primary taste cortex respond solely to sensory input from taste receptors and lingual somatosensory receptors. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we show here that expectancy modulates these neural responses in humans. When subjects were led to believe that a highly aversive bitter taste would be less distasteful than it actually was, they reported it to be less aversive than when they had accurate information about the taste and, moreover, the primary taste cortex was less strongly activated. In addition, the activation of the right insula and operculum tracked online ratings of the aversiveness for each taste. Such expectancy-driven modulation of primary sensory cortex may affect perceptions of external events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-442
Number of pages8
JournalNature neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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