Flavor learning in weanling rats and its retention.

标题Flavor learning in weanling rats and its retention.
文章类型Journal Article
作者Ueji, K., & Yamamoto T.
期刊Physiology & behavior
发表日期2012 Jun 25

The present study examined whether weanling animals can acquire associative memory for reward and retain it several weeks later. Three-week-old Wistar male rats were trained in a flavor learning task. Half of the rats received unsweetened grape-flavored water on odd-numbered days and sweetened (sucrose) cherry-flavored solution on even-numbered days. The remaining rats received sweetened grape-flavored solution on odd-numbered days and unsweetened cherry-flavored water on even-numbered days. During the acquisition session, the liquid was presented to each rat for 15 min daily for 6 consecutive days. In the following test session, each rat was presented with unsweetened cherry-flavored water and grape-flavored water simultaneously for 15 min daily for 4 consecutive days. The rats showed significant preferences for the flavor previously associated with 2% and 10% sucrose, significant aversion to the flavor associated with 30% sucrose, and no particular preference or aversion to the flavor associated with 20% sucrose, indicating a hedonic shift from positive to negative with an increasing concentration of sucrose. The association learning acquired at the age of 3 weeks was retained when re-tested in adulthood at the age of 20 weeks. In contrast to the conditioned flavor aversion associated with 30% sucrose, 20-week-old rats showed a preference for this flavor. In accordance with these learning effects, 3-week-old rats preferred 2% sucrose to 30% sucrose, and the reverse was true in 20-week-old rats. The reasons for rejection of high-concentration sucrose by weanling rats are also discussed. The present study showed that weanling rats established a conditioned flavor preference or aversion depending on the concentration of associated sucrose and retained it in adulthood, indicating that feeding experience in the weanling period is important in influencing later dietary preferences.

Alternate JournalPhysiol. Behav.