Fischer 344 (F344) rats fail to prefer sodium chloride (NaCl) solution to water, and this behavior is dramatically altered by bilateral transection of the chorda tympani nerve (CTX). Tests of retention and generalization of a conditioned taste aversion (CTA) to 0.15 M NaCl were used to assess alterations in salt taste perception after CTX. A CTA was established to 0.15 M NaCl in groups of F344 and Wistar rats after two pairings with LiCl (IP, 2% body weight; 0.15 M). After conditioning, animals received bilateral CTX or sham operations. Approximately 2 weeks after surgery animals were tested for retention of the CTA. Aversion to 0.15 M NaCl was evident in CTX and SHAM rats that had been conditioned prior to surgery, with no apparent difference in magnitude as a function of surgical condition. Thus, although CTX profoundly alters F344 rats' hedonic response to NaCl, it does not alter perceptual characteristics so markedly that NaCl is no longer recognized as the stimulus presented during aversion conditioning. Rather these studies suggest that in both the F344 and Wistar strains the chorda tympani nerve is not necessary for retention of a presurgical CTA to NaCl. These studies, therefore, do not provide evidence of changes in NaCl perceptual "quality" as a consequence of CTX either in F344 rats, where such changes were indicated by the preference data, or in the Wistar rat, where they were not.
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