Comparative expression of hedonic impact: Affective reactions to taste by human infants and other primates

Jacob E. Steiner, Dieter Glaser, Maria E. Hawilo, Kent C. Berridge*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

545 Scopus citations


This study examines behavioral affective reactions elicited by tastes from eight newborn human infants, and from 27 other infant or adult primates. Non-human primates belonged to 11 species: three great apes (chimpanzee, orangutan, gorilla), three Old World monkeys (rhesus monkey, greater spot-nosed monkey, and red-capped mangabey), four New World monkeys (golden-handed tamarin, cotton-top tamarin, white tufted-ear marmoset, and Humboldt's night monkey), and one lemur (mongoose lemur). The taste of sucrose elicited homologous positive hedonic patterns of facial affective reactions from humans and other primates, whereas quinine elicited homologous aversive or negative affective patterns. The degree of similarity between human and other primate affective reaction patterns appeared to be strongly indicative of their phylogenetic relatedness. For example, affective reaction patterns of human infants and great apes were more similar to each other than either were to Old World monkeys or New World monkeys. Certain affective reaction components were found to be shared by humans and all primates, whereas other components were restricted to particular taxonomic groups. Finally, allometric timing parameters for the duration of components indicated that the 'same' affective reaction could have different durations in species of different size. These results show that both positive/negative valence and intensity of affective reaction may be quantitatively assessed in human and non-human primates, and indicate that taste-elicited affective reaction patterns of human infants are related systematically to those of other primate species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-74
Number of pages22
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


  • Affect
  • Ape
  • Aversion
  • Development
  • Distaste
  • Emotion
  • Evolution
  • Facial expression
  • Feeding behavior
  • Gustation
  • Hedonic
  • Human
  • Ingestion
  • Intake
  • Monkey
  • Neonate
  • Ontogeny
  • Phylogeny
  • Pleasure
  • Primate
  • Reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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