Choices by rats between water and solutions of GABA or other amino acids

Jean K. Tews, Joyce J. Repa, Mark D. Thornquist, Alfred E. Harper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Responses differed widely when rats were offered choices between water and solutions of GABA, its isomers α-aminobutyric acid (AABA) and α-aminoisobutyric acid (AIB), or of another 4-carbon amino acid, threonine. They preferred solutions of threonine and AABA starting at concentrations of about 30 mM; preference for threonine declined when its concentration was 330 mM or above. Rats never preferred GABA or AIB, but instead avoided these amino acids when concentrations were approximately 100 mM or above. Control rats showed strong preferences for drinking from a given location. Limited studies with humans showed variations in the concentrations at which they could detect GABA; the mean was about 0.06 mM, a concentration far below that at which rats began to avoid this amino acid. The ability of dietary GABA to depress food intake of rats (as shown in earlier studies) does not seem related to a uniquely high sensitivity to its gustatory qualities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-923
Number of pages5
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1986


  • Amino acids
  • Choice
  • Drinking
  • GABA
  • Humans
  • Rats
  • Taste
  • Threonine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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