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Faculty, Neuroscience

Dr. Robert J. Contreras

Michigan State University, 1975


Associate Dean, College of Arts & Sciences

James C. Smith Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience

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Research Interests

Roles of early dietary experience, taste, hormones, and the brain in control of appetite, energy balance, and blood pressure regulation; plasticity, hypertension, and obesity.

Selected Publications


Wu W, Mast TG, Ziembko C, Breza JM, Contreras RJ. Statistical analysis and decoding of neural activity in the rodent geniculate ganglion using a metric-based inference system. PLOS ONE, 8(5): e65439, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065439.2013. PDF

Lu B, Breza JM, Nikonov AA, Paedae AB, and Contreras RJ. Leptin increases temperature-dependent chorda tympani nerve responses to sucrose in mice. Physiol. Behav., 107: 533-539, 2012. First published 12 April 2012; 10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.04.018. PDF

Breza, JM and Contreras, RJ.Acetic acid modulates salt taste in rats. J. Neurophysiol.,108: 2405-2418, 2012. First published 15 August 2012; doi: 10.1152/jn.00114.2012. PDF

Smith, KR, Treesukosol, Y, Paedae, AB, Contreras, RJ, Spector, AC. The contribution of the TRPV1 channel to salt taste quality in mice as assessed by conditioned taste aversion generalization and chorda tympani nerve responses. Am. J. Physiol. Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol., 303: R1195-205, 2012. First published 10 October 2012; doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00154.2012. PDF

Breza, JM & RJ Contreras. Anion size modulates salt taste in rats. J. Neurophysiol. 107:1632-1648, 2012. PDF

Lawhern, V, Nikonov, AA, Wu, W, and Contreras RJ. Spike rate and spike timing contributions to coding taste quality information in rat periphery. Frontiers in Integrative Neurosci. doi:10.3389/fnint.2011.00018. PDF

Breza, JM, Nikonov, AA, and Contreras, RJ. Response latency to lingual taste stimulation distinguishes neuron types within the geniculate ganglion. J. Neurophysiol., 103: 1771-1784, 2010. PDF

Stratford, JM & Contreras, RJ. Saliva and other taste stimuli are important for gustatory processing of linoleic acid. Am. J. Physiol. Regulatory Integrative Comp. Physiol., 297: R1162-R1170, 2009. PDF

Garcia, JM, Curtis, KS, and Contreras, RJ. Behavioral and electrophysiological taste responses change following brief or prolonged dietary sodium deprivation. Am. J. Physiol. Regulatory Integrative Comp. Physiol., 295: R1754-R1761, 2008. PDF

Frank, ME, Lundy, RF, and Contreras, RJ. Cracking Taste Codes by Tapping into Sensory Neuron Impulse Traffic. Progress in Neurobiology, 86: 245-263, 2008. PDF

Stratford, JM, Curtis, KS, and Contreras, RJ. Linoleic acid increases chorda tympani nerve responses to and behavioral preferences for monosodium glutamate by male and female rats. Am J Physiol Regulatory Integrative Comp Physiol 295: 764-772, 2008. PDF

Krause, EG, Curtis, KS, TL, Markle, JP, and Contreras, RJ. Oestrogen affects the cardiovascular and central responses to isoproterenol of female rats. J. Physiol. 582.1: 435-447, 2007. PDF

Breza, JM, Curtis, KS, and Contreras, RJ. Monosodium glutamate but not linoleic acid differentially activates gustatory neurons of the rat geniculate ganglion. Chem. Senses, 32: 833-846, 2007. PDF

Breza, J.M., Curtis, K.S., & Contreras, R. J. Temperature Modulates Taste Responsiveness and Stimulates Gustatory Neurons in the Rat Geniculate Ganglion. J. Neurophysiol 95: 674-685, 2006. PDF

Dietz, D.M., Curtis, K.S., & Contreras, R. J. Taste, Salience, and Increased NaCl Ingestion after Repeated Sodium Depletions. Chem. Senses 31: 33-41, 2006. PDF

Curtis, KS and Contreras, RJ. Sex differences in electrophysiological and behavioral responses to NaCl taste. Behav. Neurosci., 120: 917-924, 2006. PDF

Krause, EG, Curtis, KS, Stincic, TL, Markle, JP, and Contreras, RJ. Oestrogen and weight loss decrease isoproterenol-induced Fos immunoreactivity and angiotensin type 1 mRNA in the subfornical organ of female rats. J. Physiol., 573: 251-262, 2006. PDF

Stratford, JM, Curtis, KS, and Contreras, RJ. Chorda tympani nerve transection alters linoleic acid taste discrimination by male and female rats. Physiol. Behav., 89: 311-319, 2006. PDF

Curtis, KS, JM Stratford, and RJ Contreras. Estrogen increases the taste threshold for sucrose in rats. Physiol. Behav., 86: 281-286, 2005. PDF

Curtis, K.S., Krause, E.G., Wong, D. L., & Contreras, R.J. Gestational and early postnatal NaCl levels affect NaCl intake, but not stimulated water intake, by adult rats. Am. J. Physiol. Regul. Integ. Comp. Physiol., 286: R1043-R1050, 2004.


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