LiCl-induced sickness modulates spontaneous activity and response dynamics in rat gustatory cortex

biorxiv(2022)

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Abstract
Gustatory Cortex (GC), a structure deeply involved in the making of consumption decisions, presumably performs this function by integrating information about taste, experiences, and internal states related to the animal’s health, such as illness. Here, we investigated this assertion, examining whether illness is represented in GC activity, and how this representation impacts taste responses and behavior. We recorded GC single-neuron activity and local field potentials (LFP) from healthy rats and (the same) rats made ill ( via LiCl injection). We show (consistent with the extant literature) that the onset of illness-related behaviors arises contemporaneously with alterations in spontaneous 7-12Hz LFP power at ∼11 min following injection. This process was accompanied by reductions in single-neuron taste response magnitudes and discriminability, and with enhancements in palatability-relatedness – a result reflecting the collapse of responses toward a simple “good-bad” code arising in a specific subset of GC neurons. Overall, our data show that a state (illness) that profoundly reduces consumption changes basic properties of the sensory cortical response to tastes, in a manner that can easily explain illness’ impact on consumption. Significance Statement Neural responses in primary sensory cortex are often thought to faithfully represent physical stimuli, and while recent studies (including ours) have challenged this view by documenting enhancements and decrements in stimulus-induced firing related to animals’ internal states, there has been little work setting these changes in any sort of functional, mechanistic context. Here we show that a state (illness) that profoundly reduces consumption changes basic properties of the sensory cortical response to tastes, and then go beyond this to precisely characterize this response plasticity, connecting it to the specific perceptual changes that drive illness’ impact on consumption. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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Key words
rat gustatory cortex,sickness modulates,spontaneous activity,licl-induced
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