Oral temperature is a sensory cue relevant to food preference and nutrition. To understand how orally sourced thermal inputs are represented in the gustatory cortex (GC), we recorded neural responses from the GC of male and female mice presented with deionized water at different innocuous temperatures (14 °C, 25 °C, and 36 °C) and taste stimuli (room temperature). Our results demonstrate that GC neurons encode orally sourced thermal information in the absence of classical taste qualities at the single neuron and population levels, as confirmed through additional experiments comparing GC neuron responses to water and artificial saliva. Analysis of thermal-evoked responses showed broadly tuned neurons that responded to temperature in a mostly monotonic manner. Spatial location may play a minor role regarding thermosensory activity; aside from the most ventral GC, neurons reliably responded to and encoded thermal information across the dorso-ventral and antero-postero cortical axes. Additional analysis revealed that more than half of the GC neurons that encoded chemosensory taste stimuli also accurately discriminated thermal information, providing additional evidence of the GC’s involvement in processing thermosensory information important for ingestive behaviors. In terms of convergence, we found that GC neurons encoding information about both taste and temperature were broadly tuned and carried more information than taste-selective-only neurons; both groups encoded similar information about the palatability of stimuli. Altogether, our data reveal new details of the cortical code for the mammalian oral thermosensory system in behaving mice and pave the way for future investigations on GC functions and operational principles with respect to thermogustation.

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