John D. Boughter, Jr., Ph.D.

John D. Boughter, Jr., Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology
The University of Tennessee
Health Science Center

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
855 Monroe Avenue, Suite 515
Memphis, TN 38163
Phone: (901) 448-1633
Fax: (901) 448-7193
Email: John D. Boughter, Jr.


  • Undergraduate Institution: Binghamton University
  • Ph.D. Institution: Florida State University, Psychology Department, Neuroscience Program
  • Postdoctoral: University of Maryland School of Medicine, Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology

Research Interests

Ingestive decisions play a key role in a number of human conditions including obesity, diabetes, anorexia, hypertension, and coronary artery disease. My lab uses neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and behavioral genetic approaches towards the study of ingestive behaviors in laboratory mice.

Central pathways for taste and reward

The sense of taste is the most important factor in regulating ingestive decisions. This is not merely due to the location of taste buds and receptors at the beginning of the alimentary canal; it has long been appreciated that palatable tastes are inherently rewarding, and taste stimuli such as sucrose activate pathways in the CNS involved in homeostasis, ingestion and reward. We are studying these pathways in the mouse brain using functional neuroanatomical approaches including tract tracing and behavior-elicited immediate early gene expression. We use both wild type and Trpm5 knockout mice in this research. These knockout mice possess a greatly reduced sensitivity to sweet, bitter, and amino acid taste. We are also conducting in vivo recordings from single taste neurons in the parabrachial nucleus in mice, in order to understand how taste information is "coded" in the mammalian brainstem.

Schematic of ascending and descending gustatory pathways in the mouse.

Fluid licking in mice

This consummatory behavior is thought to be under the control of one or more central pattern generators (CPGs); that is, an ensemble of neurons in the CNS that generate the rhythmic output which in turn drives certain groups of muscles to act in a stereotyped, coordinated fashion. Two inbred strains of mice, C57BL/2J (B6) and DBA/2J (D2), differ in their licking behavior - D2 mice lick at a faster rate. This is likely due to a difference in the properties of the CPG. We have capitalized on this genetic variation to map several gene candidates that may underlie the CPG for licking.

The above figure shows the results of a genome scan for lick rate using BXD recombinant inbred mice. We have identified intervals (peaks of the blue trace) on chromosomes 1 and 10 that likely contain genes that influence this trait.

Representative Publications

  • Tokita K, Armstrong WE, St John SJ, Boughter JD Jr. Activation of lateral hypothalamus-projecting parabrachial neurons by intraorally delivered gustatory stimuli. Front Neural Circuits. 2014 Jul 29;8:86. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2014.00086. eCollection 2014. PubMed PMID: 25120438; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4114292.
  • Sabri F, Gerth D, Tamula GR, Phung TC, Lynch KJ, Boughter JD Jr. Novel technique for repair of severed peripheral nerves in rats using polyurea crosslinked silica aerogel scaffold. J Invest Surg. 2014 Oct;27(5):294-303. doi: 10.3109/08941939.2014.906688. Epub 2014 May 15. PubMed PMID: 24833437.
  • Ito J, Roy S, Liu Y, Cao Y, Fletcher M, Lu L, Boughter JD, Grün S, Heck DH. Whisker barrel cortex delta oscillations and gamma power in the awake mouse are linked to respiration. Nat Commun. 2014 Apr 1;5:3572. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4572. PubMed PMID: 24686563; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3988824.
  • Sabri F, Sebelik ME, Meacham R, Boughter JD Jr, Challis MJ, Leventis N. In vivo ultrasonic detection of polyurea crosslinked silica aerogel implants. PLoS One. 2013 Jun 14;8(6):e66348. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066348. Print 2013. PubMed PMID: 23799093; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3683029.
  • Lu L, Cao Y, Tokita K, Heck DH, Boughter JD Jr. Medial cerebellar nuclear projections and activity patterns link cerebellar output to orofacial and respiratory behavior. Front Neural Circuits. 2013 Apr 2;7:56. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2013.00056. eCollection 2013. PubMed PMID: 23565078; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3613706.
  • Sabri F, Boughter JD Jr, Gerth D, Skalli O, Phung TC, Tamula GR, Leventis N. Histological evaluation of the biocompatibility of polyurea crosslinked silica aerogel implants in a rat model: a pilot study. PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e50686. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050686. Epub 2012 Dec 12. PubMed PMID: 23251378; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3520989.

View more references (pubmed link)