Slow cortical DC-potential responses to sweet and bitter tastes in humans

B. Schmitt, L. Marshall, M. Nitsche, M. Hallschmid, C. Eulitz, J. Born*

*Corresponding author for this work
7 Citations (Scopus)


Processing of hedonic stimulus quality is assumed to be accompanied by a tuning of cortical arousal and excitability. In this pilot study in 11 healthy humans scalp-recorded DC potentials were assessed during application of a sweet (sucrose) and bitter (quinine hydrochloride) taste, i.e., primary reinforcers of positive and negative quality. Muscular, ocular, and skin potential activity were controlled. Application of sucrose induced a widespread positive DC-potential shift with an amplitude of 40-50 μV and persisting for more than 120-s post-stimulus onset. Following administration of quinine hydrochloride, this positive shift was reduced, most distinctly between 48- and 88-s post-stimulus onset. The reduction appeared to be most consistent at anterior midline recording sites (Fz, Cz). It is assumed that the higher DC-potential positivity during sweetness than during bitterness points to a differential tuning of cortical excitability by a widespread decrease in depolarization of apical dendrites.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)581-587
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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