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Lecture 4

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Jon Houseman

Central Taste Pathways The main flow of taste information: taste buds  primary gustatory axons  brain stem  thalamus  cerebral cortex (see Fig. 8.8)  Three cranial nerves carry primary gustatory axons and bring taste info to the brain o The anterior two-thirds of the tongue and the palate send axons into a branch of cranial nerve VII (facial nerve) o The posterior third of the tongue is innervated by cranial nerve IX (glossopharyngeal nerve) o The regions around the throat (e.g. glottis, epiglottis, and pharynx) send taste axons to cranial nerve X (vagus nerve)  These nerves synapse within the slender gustatory nucleus From the gustatory nucleus, taste pathways diverge. The conscious experience of taste is presumably mediated by the cerebral cortex. Neurons of the gustatory nucleus synapse on a subset of small neurons in the ventral posterior medial (VPM) nucleus. These VPM taste neurons then send axons to the primary gustatory cortex. The taste pathways to the thalamus and cortex are primarily ipsilateral to the cranial nerves that supply them. Lesions within the VPM thalamus or the gustatory cortex can cause ageusia. The Neural Coding of Taste Labelled line hypothesis: If you were going to design a system for coding tastes, you might begin with many specific taste receptors for many basic tastes. Each receptor type will be connected by separate axons to neurons in the brain that also responded to only one specific taste. Therefore,
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