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Conditioned taste aversions (CTAs) or Garcia effect are a byproduct of feeling ill after we've consumed a certain food. These aversions is present even if the illness is not related to ingestion and are difficult to extinguish in humans. This makes sense in light of the fact that in model systems like the rat they are entrenched in brainstem circuitry (Mickley et al., 2011).

With such a deep association taking place, does the likelihood of extinguishing these aversions via cognitive therapy (e.g., CBT) decrease dramatically? What would be a possible inroad into treating human subjects with such an aversion?

Mickley GA, Wilson GN, Remus JL, Ramos L, Ketchesin KD, Biesan OR, Luchsinger JR, & Prodan S. (2011). Periaqueductal gray c-Fos expression varies relative to the method of conditioned taste aversion extinction employed. Brain Res.;1423:17-29. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2011.09.033

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Wouldn't it be easier to simply not eat the food that grosses you out? :) –  Dima Mar 7 '12 at 15:00
@Dima As a stopgap, sure, but understanding these mechanisms is a bridge into other areas of "learned" behavior. –  Chuck Sherrington Mar 7 '12 at 15:01

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