Neural basis of flavor

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What we choose to eat or drink depends upon a complex interaction between sensory information, experience, and state. Trying a new food is a very different experience than eating an old favorite. Similarly, your perception of a chocolate bar can vary depending on if you haven’t eaten anything all day or you just finished a big meal. The interplay between chemosensory processing and physiological/ psychological state is key to understanding how, when, and why we choose what to eat.

 

To this end, our lab investigates the neural substrates underlying the integration of smell and taste (flavor) and how physiological/psychological state modulates this multisensory processing. We explore these fundamental network and circuit mechanisms using a combination of awake-behaving electrophysiology, optogenetics, anatomical tracing, and behavior. Our long-term goal is to better understand these complex interactions in order to address eating-related diseases, including eating disorders, obesity, and diabetes.