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

  • Fletcher ML, Ogg MC, Lu L, Ogg RJ, Boughter JD Jr. Overlapping Representation of Primary Tastes in a Defined Region of the Gustatory Cortex. J Neurosci. 2017 Aug 9;37(32):7595-7605. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0649-17.2017. Epub 2017 Jul 3. PubMed PMID: 28674169; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5551059.
  • St John SJ, Lu L, Williams RW, Saputra J, Boughter JD Jr. Genetic control of oromotor phenotypes: A survey of licking and ingestive behaviors in highly diverse strains of mice. Physiol Behav. 2017 Aug 1;177:34-43. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.04.007. Epub 2017 Apr 12. PubMed PMID: 28411104; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5540359.
  • Tokita K, Boughter JD Jr. Topographic organizations of taste-responsive neurons in the parabrachial nucleus of C57BL/6J mice: An electrophysiological mapping study. Neuroscience. 2016 Mar 1;316:151-66. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.12.030. Epub 2015 Dec 19. PubMed PMID: 26708748; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4724509.
  • Rebecca Glatt A, St John SJ, Lu L, Boughter JD Jr. Temporal and qualitative dynamics of conditioned taste aversions in C57BL/6J and DBA/2J mice self-administering LiCl. Physiol Behav. 2016 Jan 1;153:97-108. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.10.033. Epub 2015 Oct 31. PubMed PMID: 26524511.
  • Saites LN, Goldsmith Z, Densky J, Guedes VA, Boughter JD Jr. Mice perceive synergistic umami mixtures as tasting sweet. Chem Senses. 2015 Jun;40(5):295-303. doi: 10.1093/chemse/bjv010. Epub 2015 Mar 28. PubMed PMID: 25820205; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4498132.
  • 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.

View more references (pubmed link)