Taste familiarity is inversely correlated with Arc/Arg3.1 hemispheric lateralization.
Inberg S, Elkobi A, Edri E, Rosenblum K.
Biochemical, electrophysiological, and imaging studies suggest that the anterior part of the insular cortex (IC) serves as primary taste cortex, whereas fMRI studies in human propose that the anterior IC is also involved in processing of general novelty or saliency information. Here, we compared activity regulated cytoskeleton associated protein (Arc)/Arg3.1 protein levels in the rat IC following administration of familiar versus novel tastes. Surprisingly, there was no correlation between novel taste and Arc/Arg3.1 levels when measured as the sum of both left and right insular cortices. However, when left and right IC were examined separately, Arc/Arg3.1 level was lateralized following novel taste learning. Moreover, Arc/Arg3.1 lateralization was inversely correlated with taste familiarity, whereas the high lateralization of Arc/Arg3.1 expression observed following novel taste learning is reduced proportionally to the increment in taste familiarity. In addition, unilateral inhibition of protein synthesis in the IC had asymmetrical effect on memory, inducing strong memory impairment similarly to bilateral inhibition or memory preservation, indicating that hemispheric lateralization is central for processing taste saliency information. These results provide indications, at the gene level of expression, for the role of IC lateralization in processing novel taste information and for the asymmetrical contribution of protein synthesis in each hemisphere during memory consolidation.