David Pittman, Ph.D.


knowledge2            our research program2

Did you know that the drugs people take to treat anxiety also make some foods appear to be tastier?

My colleague, Dr. JP Baird of Amherst College, and I are conducting a collaborative research project to examine the effect of anti-anxiety drugs (anxiolytics) on taste palatability

Our research uses an animal model (rats) to conduct sophisticated behavioral experiments and neurophysiological recordings of brain activity in a coordinated effort to fully characterize the ability of anxioloytics to modify neural signaling in the taste system and subsequently ingestive behavior. 

In other words, we are figuring out how drugs such as Librium, Xanax, & Valium act to make foods to taste better.

Our research aims are to:
1.  Characterize the modulation of gustatory behavioral responses by benzodiazepines
across a spectrum of tastant qualities using a wide range of stimulus concentrations.  Using high-fidelity behavioral measurements we are assessing the effect of benzodiazepines on the ingestive behavior of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter tastes during both brief access (<30s) and long-term (
>30min) stimulus tests.

2.  Characterize changes in the gustatory neural responses to tastants due to benzodiazepines using neurophysiological recordings in the peripheral and central nervous system pathways for taste.  We will assess the effects of benzodiazepines on taste neural signals using ligands and antagonists of GABA-A receptors in both the peripheral and central nervous system areas involved in afferent taste signaling.

other line of research:  the taste of dietary fat


Please use the below links to explore our work:
  summary research
current research
  free fatty acid
free fatty acid
  research facilities people  

Return to Dr. Dave Pittman's web site


The laboratory of Dr. Dave Pittman
Associate Professor of Psychology, Wofford College
429 N. Church Street, Spartanburg, SC  29303