The effects of bilateral excitotoxic lesions of the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPTg) on sucrose intake were examined in three experiments. First, in tests of conditioned place preference using 20% sucrose as the reinforcer, it was shown that lesioned rats, regardless of whether they were food deprived or non-deprived, formed normal place preferences and showed normal amounts of locomotion. However, consumption of 20% sucrose in the pairing trials was increased in the deprived PPTg lesioned rats compared to their matched controls. A second experiment showed that sucrose consumption in the home cage was increased in both deprived and non-deprived PPTg lesioned rats, but only when the concentration of sucrose was greater than 12%: below this there were no differences in intake between the lesioned and control rats. In a third home cage experiment, it was again shown that non-deprived PPTg lesioned rats increased their consumption of 20% sucrose compared to controls. PPTg lesioned rats concomitantly reduced their intake of lab chow such that overall energy intake remained the same as that of control rats. These data are taken to suggest (i) that bilateral excitotoxic lesions of the PPTg increase consumption of sucrose selectively in conditions of high motivational excitement; (ii) that the perception of the rewarding value of 20% sucrose, as judged by place preference, is not affected by these lesions; and (iii) that PPTg lesioned rats are able to adjust their energy intake to accommodate increased sucrose loads. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that bilateral excitotoxic lesions of the PPTg do not affect energy balance regulation or judgment of the hedonic value of sucrose, but that they do affect the control of responding in the face of high levels of motivational excitement.
- conditioned place preference
- energy intake