Date Approved

2018

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Joseph Breza, Ph.D,

Committee Member

Thomas Waltz, Ph.D., Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kenneth Rusiniak, Ph.D.

Abstract

This thesis describes a series of experiments designed to evaluate the hypothesis that Type I taste receptor cells play a critical role in the detection and transduction of sodium taste via of epithelial sodium channels (ENaCs). Experiment 1 validated the function of a simple and affordable behavioral apparatus (hardware and software) for testing taste preference and taste aversion in mice. Experiment 2 demonstrated a pharmacological method for rapid induction of salt appetite in mice. Experiment 3 showed that optogenetic stimulation of Type I taste receptor cells (TRCs) in transgenic mice could drive consumption of tap water under conditions of salt hunger. The fourth and final experiment assessed whether conditioned taste aversions to sodium would generalize to optogenetic stimulation of Type I taste receptor cells in transgenic mice, with inconclusive results.

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