Afferent chorda tympani (CT) fibers innervating taste and somatosensory receptors in fungiform papillae have neuron cell bodies in the geniculate ganglion (GG). The GG/CT fibers branch in the tongue to innervate taste buds in several fungiform papillae. To investigate receptive field characteristics of GG/CT neurons, we recorded extracellular responses from GG cells to application of chemical and thermal stimuli. Receptive field size was mapped by electrical stimulation of individual fungiform papillae. Response latency to electrical stimulation was used to determine fiber conduction velocity. Responses of GG neurons to lingual application of stimuli representing four taste qualities, and water at 4°C, were used to classify neuron response properties. Neurons classified as SALT, responding only to NaCl and NH4Cl, had a mean receptive field size of six papillae. Neurons classified as OTHER responded to salts and other chemical stimuli and had smaller mean receptive fields of four papillae. Neurons that responded to salts and cold stimuli, classified as SALT/THERMAL, and neurons responding to salts, other chemical stimuli and cold, classified as OTHER/THERMAL, had mean receptive field sizes of six and five papillae, respectively. Neurons responding only to cold stimuli, categorized as THERMAL, had receptive fields of one to two papillae located at the tongue tip. Based on conduction velocity most of the neurons were classified as C fibers. Neurons with large receptive fields had higher conduction velocities than neurons with small receptive fields. These results demonstrate that GG neurons can be distinguished by receptive field size, response properties and afferent fiber conduction velocity derived from convergent input of multiple taste organs.
- taste bud
- geniculate ganglion
- chorda tympani
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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