Behavioral responses to sweeteners have been used to study the evolution, mechanisms, and functions of taste. Occidental low and high saccharin consuming rats (respectively, LoS and HiS) have been selectively outbred on the basis of saccharin intake and are a valuable tool for studying variation among individuals in sweetener intake and its correlates. Relative to HiS rats, LoS rats consume smaller amounts of all nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners tested to date, except aspartame. The lines also differ in intake of the commercial product Splenda; the roles of sucralose and saccharides in the difference are unclear. The present study extends prior work by examining intake of custom mixtures of sucralose, maltodextrin, and sugars and Splenda by LoS and HiS rats (Experiment 1A–1D), stevia and a constituent compound (rebaudioside A; Experiment 2A–2E), and acesulfame potassium tested at several concentrations or with 4 other sweeteners at one concentration each (Experiment 3A–3B). Results indicate that aversive side tastes limit intake of Splenda, stevia, and acesulfame potassium, more so among LoS rats than among HiS rats. In addition, regression analyses involving 5 sweeteners support the idea that both sweetness and bitterness are needed to account for intake of nonnutritive sweeteners, more so among LoS rats. These findings contribute to well developed and emerging literatures on sweetness and domain-general processes related to gustation.
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