SPLTRAK Abstract Submission
Awake, In-Vivo Imaging of Experience-Induced Changes of Taste Representation in Mouse Gustatory Cortex.
Stephanie M Staszko, John D Boughter, Max L Fletcher
University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, United States

A major drawback of prior taste learning studies has been the inability to reliably follow individual cell taste responses across days, thus it still unclear how individual cell taste representations change with experience. Current research in our laboratory utilizes miniature head-mounted microscopes (miniscopes) to investigate taste coding in the gustatory cortex (GC) of awake, behaving mice. A primary benefit of this technique is the ability to image the same population of neurons across multiple days in deep brain regions such as GC. Thus, our present research aims to understand how experience alters activity in single cells in mouse GC using both non-associative (passive experience) and associative learning (CTA) paradigms. Current imaging experiments are focused on “central” GC (AP+1.5mm, ML+3.3mm, DV-2.1mm). Mice are water deprived and trained to lick taste stimuli from a Davis Rig. Once trained to lick from sipper tubes, animals are exposed to a taste panel including sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami stimuli. Animals receive two random presentations of each stimulus (separated by a diH2O rinse) each day over the course of five days. Immediately following the non-associative learning paradigm, animals enter a CTA paradigm in which they consume lithium chloride from a sipper tube and are tested the following day with presentations of sodium chloride and diH2O, with low sodium chloride consumption reflecting learning. To date, data show spatially overlapping populations of taste-responsive and non-taste responsive cells exist within GC, with a clear decrease in activity of non-taste responsive cells over days. Current experiments and analyses are focused on understanding changes in single cell activity following CTA.