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Stuart McCaughey, PhD

Assistant Professor
Neuroanatomy


Research Interests           

All animals, including human beings, face a similar dilemma: our bodies are not self-sustaining.  The molecules that we need to function normally are constantly being lost or broken down in chemical reactions.  Our solution, of course, is to eat, which lets us acquire the nutrients that we need to live.  Although this general principle is simple, there are many factors that can influence when, how much, and what we choose to eat.  My main interest is how food choices are guided by the sense of taste.  I have pursued this topic primarily by measuring intake of food and solutions, and by relating behavioral preferences to the activity of taste-responsive neurons in the brain and peripheral nerves. I use rats and mice as model organisms, which lets me investigate the role of specific genes and carefully control factors such as diet composition.

More specifically, areas in which I am especially interested include: 1) how taste-related mechanisms vary across different parts of the mouth; 2) the genes involved in responses to compounds that are salty or sweet or contain calcium; and 3) how perceptions of taste quality are influenced by the temporal patterns of firing by gustatory neurons. By pursuing these questions, I hope to expand our knowledge of how taste perceptions are generated, particularly in terms of how specific events that take place in the mouth affect the firing of neurons in the brain.  Such knowledge, in turn, may help to explain why people choose to eat unhealthy foods that lead to a greater risk of disease.


Representative publications:

Dana RM, McCaughey SA. Gustatory responses of the mouse chorda tympani nerve vary based on region of tongue stimulation. Chem Senses. 2015 Jun;40(5):335-44. Abstract

Baird JP, Tordoff MG, McCaughey SA. Bursting by taste-responsive cells in the rodent brainstem. J Neurophysiol. 2015 Jan 21. Abstract

Tordoff MG, Aleman TR, McCaughey SA. Heightened avidity for trisodium pyrophosphate in mice lacking tas1r3.
Chem Senses. 2015 Jan;40(1):53-9. Abstract 

Tordoff MG, Ellis H, Aleman T, Downing A, Marambaud P, Foskett JK, Dana RM, McCaughey SA.  Salty taste deficits in CALHM1 knockout mice. Chem Senses 39(6): 515-28, 2014. Abstract

McCaughey SA, Glendinning JI.  Experience with sugar modifies behavioral but not taste-evoked medullary responses to sweeteners in mice.  Chem Senses 38(9): 793-802, 2013. Abstract; Full Text

Cherukuri CM, Bachmanov AA, McCaughey SA.  A/J and C57BL/6J mice differ in chorda tympani responses to NaCl.  Neurosci Res 75(4): 283-8, 2013. Abstract; Full Text PDF

Cherukuri CM, McCaughey SA, Tordoff MG.  Comparison of differences between PWD/PhJ and C57BL/6J mice in calcium solution preferences and chorda tympani nerve responses.  Physiol Behav 102(5): 496-502, 2011. Abstract; Full Text PDF

Tordoff MG, Shao H, Alarcón LK, Margolskee RF, Mosinger B, Bachmanov AA, Reed DR, McCaughey S.  Involvement of T1R3 in calcium-magnesium taste.  Physiol Genom 34(3): 338-48, 2008. Abstract: Full Text PDF

McCaughey S.A.  The taste of sugars.  Neurosci Biobehav Rev 32(5): 1024-43, 2008 Abstract; Full Text

Guenthner, C.J., McCaughey, S.A., Tordoff, M.G., Baird, J.P.  Licking for taste solutions by potassium-deprived rats: Specificity and mechanisms.  Physiol Behav 93: 937-46, 2008. Abstract; Full Text

McCaughey SA, Giza BK, Tordoff, MG.  Taste and acceptance of pyrophosphates.  Am J Physiol 292: R2159-67, 2007. Abstract; Full Text PDF

McCaughey SA.  Taste-evoked responses to sweeteners in the nucleus of the solitary tract differ between C57BL/6ByJ and 129P3/J mice.  J Neurosci 27: 35-45, 2007. Abstract; Full Text PDF

McCaughey SA, Forestell CA, Tordoff MG Calcium deprivation increases the palatability of calcium solutions in rats. Physiol Behav 84: 335-42, 2005. Abstract

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