De Gustibus Non Est Disputandem: A Spiral Center for Taste in the Brain of the Teleost Fish, Heterotis niloticus

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Science  25 Apr 1986:
Vol. 232, Issue 4749, pp. 489-491
DOI: 10.1126/science.232.4749.489

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The teleost fish, Heterotis niloticus, has elaborate paired, spiraled pharyngeal structures that aid in concentrating and swallowing food. These epibranchial organs are lined by an epithelium rich in taste buds. Both the taste buds and the muscles of the epibranchial organs are innervated by components of the vagal nerve. Horseradish peroxidase neuronal tracing experiments show that these nerve fibers are connected centrally to an enormous epibranchial portion of the vagal lobes—a special visceral sensory and motor region of the medulla. The epibranchial portion of the vagal lobe is among the most remarkable structures found in the brains of vertebrates, for it is itself a spiral.