Skip to main content

Caffeine-based flavor preference conditioning in the rat

Abstract

The massive consumption of caffeine-containing beverages has prompted many studies involving human participants that have obtained caffeine-based increases in liking for a flavor. However, few studies have succeeded in obtaining caffeine-based flavor preference learning in rats. The main aim of the present study was to examine the conditions under which such learning can be detected. Three experiments differed mainly in terms of the base solution to which caffeine was added. Using a base of maltodextrin and saccharin, Experiment 1 found modest increases in flavor preferences in both food- and fluid-restricted rats. Experiment 2 found a strong caffeine-based flavor preference when water, but not saccharin, was used as the base. Whereas the first two experiments used a within-subject design, in which one flavor was paired with caffeine and a second flavor was not, Experiment 3 used a between-subject design with fluid-restricted rats given almond-flavored water containing caffeine in the Paired condition but not in the Unpaired condition; caffeine-based flavor preference learning was again found. In Experiments 1 and 2 post-conditioning exposure to the flavor alone produced a decrease in preference. In summary, the main achievements of this study were to extend the conditions under which caffeine-based flavor preferences can be detected in rats and demonstrate that such learned preferences are subject to extinction.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

References

  1. Albertella, L. & Boakes, R.A. (2006). Persistence of conditioned flavor preferences is not due to inadvertent food reinforcement. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 32, 386-395. https://doi.org/10.1037/0097-7403.32.4.386

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Badolato, C., Hall, G., & Boakes, R.A. (in press). Sucrose-based flavor preferences in rats: Factors affecting detection of extinction. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition.

  3. Blanca, M., Alarcón, R., Arnau, J. et al. (2018). Effect of variance ratio on ANOVA robustness: Might 1.5 be the limit? Behavior Research Methods, 50, 937–962. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-017-0918-2

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Boakes, R.A. & Wu, J. (2020). Time -of-day affects the amount rats run during daily sessions in activity wheels. Learning & Behavior. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13420-020-00436-3

  5. Brockwell, N. T., Eikelboom, R., & Beninger, R. J. (1991). Caffeine-induced place and taste conditioning: production of dose-dependent preference and aversion. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 38(3), 513-517.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Chambers, L., Mobini, S., & Yeomans, M. R. (2007). Caffeine deprivation state modulates expression of acquired liking for caffeine-paired flavours. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60(10), 1356-1366. https://doi.org/10.1080/17470210601154545

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Davis, J.D. & Smith, G.P. (1992). Analaysis of the microstructure of the rhythmic tongue movements of rats ingesting maltose and sucrose solutions. Behavior Neuroscience, 106, 217-228.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Dwyer, D.M. (2012). Licking and liking: The assessment of hedonic responses in rodents. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65, 371-394.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Drucker, D.B., Ackroff, K., & Sclafani, A. (1994). Nutrient-conditioned flavor preference and acceptance in rats: Effects of deprivation state and non-reinforcement. Physiology & Behavior, 56, 701-707.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Fedorchak, P. M., Mesita, J., Plater, S. A., & Brougham, K. (2002). Caffeine-reinforced conditioned flavor preferences in rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, 116(2), 334-346.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Ferre, S., Ciruela, F., Borycz, J., Solinas, M., Quarta, D., Antoniou, K., … Franco, R. (2008). Adenosine A1-A2A receptor heteromers: new targets for caffeine in the brain. Front Biosci, 13(2391-2399), 9.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Fredholm, B. B., Bättig, K., Holmén, J., Nehlig, A., & Zvartau, E. E. (1999). Actions of caffeine in the brain with special reference to factors that contribute to its widespread use. Pharmacological Reviews, 51(1), 83-133.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Han, E., & Powell, L. M. (2013). Consumption patterns of sugar-sweetened beverages in the United States. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 113(1), 43-53.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Harris, J. A., Shand, F. L., Carroll, L. Q., & Westbrook, R. F. (2004). Persistence of preference for a flavor presented in simultaneous compound with sucrose. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 30(3), 177-189.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Hu, F. B., & Malik, V. S. (2010). Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes: epidemiologic evidence. Physiology & Behavior, 100(1), 47-54.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Kendig, M.D., Fu, M.X., Rehn, S., Martire, S.I., Boakes, R.A., & Rooney, K.B. (2018). Metabolic and cognitive improvement from switching to saccharin or water following chronic consumption by female rats of 10% sucrose solution. Physiology & Behavior, 188, 162-172. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.02.008

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. McLellan, T. M., Caldwell, J. A., & Lieberman, H. R. (2016). A review of caffeine’s effects on cognitive, physical and occupational performance. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 71, 294-312.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Mobini, S., Elliman, T. D., & Yeomans, M. R. (2005). Changes in the pleasantness of caffeine-associated flavours consumed at home. Food Quality and Preference, 16(8), 659-666.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Myers, K. P., & Izbicki, E. V. (2006). Reinforcing and aversive effects of caffeine measured by flavor preference conditioning in caffeine-naive and caffeine-acclimated rats. Physiology & Behavior, 88(4-5), 585-596.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Revusky, S.H. (1968). Effects of thirst level during consumption of flavored water on subsequent preference. Journal of Conparative and Physiological Psychology, 66, 777–779. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0026539

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Smith, J. K., Neill, J. C., & Costall, B. (1998). The influence of postweaning housing conditions on drug-induced conditioned taste aversion. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 59(2), 379-386.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Steigerwald, E. S., Rusiniak, K. W., Eckel, D. L., & O'Regan, M. H. (1988). Aversive conditioning properties of caffeine in rats. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 31(3), 579-584.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Temple, J.L., Bernard, C., Lipschultz, S.E., Czachor, J.D., Westphal, J.A., & Mestre, M.A. (2012a). The safety of ingested caffeine: A comprehensive review. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 8.80. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00080

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Temple, J.L., Ziegler, A.M., Graczyk, A., Bendlin, A., O’Leary, S., & Schnittker, Y.S. (2012b). Influence of caffeine on the liking of novel-flavored sodas in adolescents. Psychopharmacology, 223, 37-45. doi https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-012-2684-2.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Tinley, E.M., Durlach, P.J., & Yeomans, M.R. (2003). Caffeine reinforces flavour preferences in caffeine-dependent, but not long-term withdrawn caffeine consumers. Psychopharmacology, 166, 416-423.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Tinley, E. M., Durlach, P. J., & Yeomans, M. R. (2004). How habitual caffeine consumption and dose influence flavour preference conditioning with caffeine. Physiology & Behavior, 82(2-3), 317-324.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Vitiello, M. V., & Woods, S. C. (1975). Caffeine: preferential consumption by rats. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 3(2), 147-149.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. White, B., & Mason, F. (1985). Caffeine-induced taste aversion and mimetic responses. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 23(4), 515-518.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Yeomans, M. R., Durlach, P. J., & Tinley, E. M. (2005). Flavour liking and preference conditioned by caffeine in humans. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 58B, 47-58. https://doi.org/10.1080/02724990444000041

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Yeomans, M. R., Jackson, A., Lee, M. D., Nesic, J., & Durlach, P. J. (2000a). Expression of flavour preferences conditioned by caffeine is dependent on caffeine deprivation state. Psychopharmacology, 150(2), 208-215. https://doi.org/10.1007/s002130000405

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Yeomans, M.R., Jackson, A., Lee, M.D., Steer, B., Tinley, E., Durlach, P., & Rogers, P.J. (2000b). Acquisition and extinction of flavour preferences conditioned by caffeine in humans. Appetite, 36, 131-141. https://doi.org/10.1006/appe.2000.0339

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Yeomans, M. R., Mobini, S., & Chambers, L. (2007). Additive effects of flavour–caffeine and flavour–flavour pairings on liking for the smell and flavour of a novel drink. Physiology & Behavior, 92(5), 831-839. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.06.006

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Yeomans, M. R., Spetch, H., & Rogers, P. J. (1998). Conditioned flavour preference negatively reinforced by caffeine in human volunteers. Psychopharmacology, 137(4), 401-409. https://doi.org/10.1007/s002130050636

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Robert A. Boakes.

Ethics declarations

This study was partly funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant to K.B. Rooney and R.A. Boakes, DP17010392, and partly by the School of Psychology, University of Sydney. Experiments 1 and 2 were reported in a Psychology Honours thesis by LF, who ran all three experiments. LF and RAB designed the experiments and together wrote the paper, in collaboration with SR, who also performed most of the statistical analyses. We are grateful to Martin Yeomans for his comments on an early draft of this paper. There are no conflicts of interest. The experimental procedures were approved by the University of Sydney Animal Ethics Committee under Protocol #1082. Prior to publication the data are available on request to RAB and subsequent to publication will become openly available on the internet.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Farabi, L., Rehn, S. & Boakes, R.A. Caffeine-based flavor preference conditioning in the rat. Learn Behav (2021). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13420-021-00483-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Associative learning
  • Flavour preference learning
  • Caffeine
  • Rat
  • Extinction