Poison-avoidance learning to food-related tactile stimuli: Avoidance of texture cues by rats
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Rats injected with lithium chloride after ingesting familiar food pellets presented in textured metal sleeves learned aversions to the sleeved food. In a choice between sleeved and unsleeved food, the aversions were evident following conditioning with toxicosis delayed as long as 120 min after exposure to the sleeved food (Experiment 1). Texture-specific aversions resulted from procedures in which rats were exposed to food in both rough- and smooth-textured sleeves but were injected with lithium only in conjunction with one of the textures (Experiments 2–4). This differential aversion learning occurred when lithium treatment was delayed 30 min after exposure to the sleeved food (Experiments 3 and 4) and was equally evident in rats conditioned and tested in total darkness or in normal room-level illumination (Experiment 4). However, differential texture aversion learning was not observed with 90- or 300-min delayed toxicosis (Experiment 3). The present experiments highlight the importance of tactile cues in the poison-avoidance learning of species that handle their food during the course of ingestion.
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