Pontine and thalamic influences on fluid rewards: I. Operant responding for sucrose and corn oil

Nu Chu Liang, Christopher S. Freet, Patricia S. Grigson, Ralph Norgren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The reward strength of orosensory sucrose and corn oil was measured using fixed and progressive ratio operant schedules. Because the orosensory effects of the stimuli were of interest, Experiment 1 compared operant responses for sucrose in sham and real feeding rats. The results demonstrated that rats would work for sucrose solutions without the accompanying postingestive effects. Furthermore, the break points for high concentrations of sucrose (1.0. M or 2.0. M) were significantly higher in sham feeding rats than in real feeding controls. Experiment 2 investigated the role of the parabrachial nucleus (PBN) and of the thalamic orosensory area (TOA) in sucrose and corn oil reward. During free access, rats with PBN lesions (PBNx) licked significantly less sucrose solution than their controls, but both groups ingested a similar volume of corn oil emulsion. When an operant was imposed, these same PBNx rats failed to respond for sucrose and continued only modestly for corn oil. In contrast, the TOA lesioned rats (TOAx) showed no impairment in responding for sucrose or corn oil during either the free access or operant sessions. Furthermore, rats with TOA lesions demonstrated significantly higher break points for sucrose than did their controls. Together, the data imply that the PBN but not the TOA is critical for the perception of, or responding to the reward value of sucrose and corn oil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)576-588
Number of pages13
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 18 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Parabrachial nucleus
  • Progressive ratio
  • Reward
  • Sham feeding
  • Thalamic orosensory area

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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