The present study examines two novel aspects of appetitive processing and conditioning: the electrophysiological response to (a) the appetitive taste of a sweet fluid and (b) appetitively/taste conditioned visual stimuli. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded from 32 subjects while they performed a taste conditioning task, in which two symbols were paired with a sweet or a neutral fluid. The results show a clear P1/N1/P2 complex, and a late positive potential (P3) with maxima at right fronto-central electrode sites, in response to the taste stimuli. Of these components particularly the P3 showed robust differences between the sweet and neutral taste. In addition, the electrophysiological response to the taste conditioned stimuli (CS), also showed the expected differences for both P2 and P3 at frontocentral electrodes. The present data demonstrate that the employed paradigm is a useful methodology to study the electrophysiological responses to unconditioned appetitive stimuli. Since appetitive conditioning is assumed to be disturbed in many psychopathological conditions, such as substance dependence, depression and eating disorders, this paradigm could be employed to get more insight in these conditions in humans.

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Keywords Appetitive conditioning, ERP, Gustatory event-related potentials, Taste
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Journal Biological Psychology
Franken, I.H.A, Huijding, J, Nijs, I.M.T, & van Strien, J.W. (2011). Electrophysiology of appetitive taste and appetitive taste conditioning in humans. Biological Psychology, 86(3), 273–278. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2010.12.008