Ketamine blocks a conditioned taste aversion (CTA) in neonatal rats

G. Andrew Mickley, Melanie A. Schaldach, Kristyn J. Snyder, Seth A. Balogh, Traci Len, Kevin Neimanis, Paula Goulis, Jennifer Hug, Kimberly Sauchak, Dawn R. Remmers-Roeber, Crystal Walker, Bryan K. Yamamoto

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40 Scopus citations


These experiments explored the effects of glutamate, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor blockade on the formation, retention, and expression of conditioned taste aversion (CTA) in young rats. Previous data from our laboratory suggested that ketamine administration potentiates a CTA in E18 rat fetuses. The current studies investigated this phenomenon in neonates. High-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) methods were used to determine the amount of ketamine that must be injected intraperitoneally (i.p.) to achieve brain ketamine levels in neonates comparable to those found in the fetuses from our previous experiments. Then, on their day of birth, Sprague-Dawley rat pups received injections of either 0.1, 10, or 70 mg/kg of ketamine HCl, i.p. or a Sal control injection. One-half hour later, pups were injected orally with either Saccharin (Sac; 10 μL of 0.3%) or water followed by an injection of either lithium chloride (LiCl; 81 mg/kg) or Sal (i.p.). The CTA was evaluated in two different tests. Two weeks after conditioning, the dam was anesthetized and the frequency with which pups attached to Sac-painted nipples versus nipples painted with water was measured (i.e., the nipple taste test, NTT). Controls for state-dependent learning were run in which 10 mg/kg of ketamine or saline (Sal) was administered before both taste aversion conditioning and the NTT. After weaning, the CTA was also evaluated by measuring the amount of Sac (0.3%) or water consumed during a two-bottle test. Neonates that received Sal control injections before the Sac + LiCl pairing acquired CTAs and avoided Sac-painted nipples. However, the pups injected with ketamine on the conditioning day only (P0) did not avoid Sac-painted nipples (as compared to controls). Pups that had ketamine both at the time of CTA training and testing, or just before the NTT, also failed to avoid Sac-painted nipples. Ketamine's acute effects apparently influenced the outcome of the NTT of state-dependent control subjects. Rat pups that received the highest doses of ketamine (10 or 70 mg/kg) and tasted Sac on P0 later failed to show a neophobia for Sac-painted nipples. Whereas, rat pups that received the high dose of ketamine and water on P0, later exhibited a neophobic response. These data suggest that ketamine did not impair the animal's ability to taste Sac. These data reflecting a ketamine-induced blockade of neonatal CTAs may be contrasted with our previous findings in which ketamine potentiated fetal CTAs. However, they are in consonance with data from adult rats suggesting that ketamine can cause an amnesia for CTAs. NMDA receptor blockade may shape memory formation in a manner that is dependent on the stage of brain development. Copyright (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-390
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Conditioned Taste Aversion
  • Development
  • Glutamate
  • Ketamine
  • Learning
  • Lithium Chloride
  • NMDA Antagonism
  • NMDA receptors
  • Neonate
  • Neural Plasticity
  • Saccharin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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    Mickley, G. A., Schaldach, M. A., Snyder, K. J., Balogh, S. A., Len, T., Neimanis, K., Goulis, P., Hug, J., Sauchak, K., Remmers-Roeber, D. R., Walker, C., & Yamamoto, B. K. (1998). Ketamine blocks a conditioned taste aversion (CTA) in neonatal rats. Physiology and Behavior, 64(3), 381-390.