Joseph Breza

A photo of Joseph Breza

Assistant Professor

Psychology; Neuroscience

341J Science Complex



  • Postdoctoral training, Neuroscience, Ohio State University, 2012–2014
  • Ph.D., Neuroscience, Florida State University, 2011
  • MS, Psychobiology, Florida State University, 2008
  • BS, Psychology, Florida State University, 2003

Interests and Expertise

The sense of taste is critical for identifying nutrients (electrolytes, carbohydrates and proteins) from toxins (plant alkaloids). Animals show innate preferences for nutrients and avoid ingesting toxins, but these stereotypical behaviors can be reversed with experience. I am interested in the neural structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) of orosensation (taste, mechanosensation and thermosensation), taste perception and oromotor reflexes (licking, chewing, swallowing and gaping). Currently, I use a multifaceted approach (neurophysiology, immunohistochemistry and optogenetics) to study the structure and function of orosensation in the murine-nervous system. I also have interest in the structure and function of chemosensation (taste and smell) and behavior in other model organisms, such as insects and amphibians.


  • PSY 301W Introductory Experimental Psychology (Undergraduate)
  • PSY 633 Cognitive Neuroscience (Graduate)

Publications and Presentations

  • Wu W., Mast T.G., Ziembko C., Breza J.M., Contreras R.J. Statistical analysis and decoding of neural activity in the rodent geniculate ganglion using a metric-based inference system. PloS ONE. 8(5): e65439, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065439.201. (2013) [PDF]
  • Breza J.M., Contreras R.J. Anion size modulates salt taste in rats. J. Neurophysiol. 107:16321648. (2012) [PDF]
  • Lu B., Breza J.M., Nikonov A.A., Paedae A.B., and Contreras R.J. Leptin increases temperature-dependent chorda tympani nerve responses to sucrose in mice. Physiol Behav. 107: 533539. (2012) [PDF]
  • Breza J.M. and Contreras R.J. Acetic acid modulates salt taste in rats. J. Neurophysiol. 108: 24052418. (2012) [PDF]
  • Torregrossaa A.M., Bales M.B., Breza J.M., Houpt T.A., Smith J.C., Contreras R.J. Water restriction and fluid temperature alter preference for water and sucrose solutions. Chem Senses. 37(3): 27992. (2012) [PDF]
  • Breza J.M., Nikonov A.A., and Contreras R.J. Response latency to lingual taste stimulation distinguishes neuron types within the geniculate ganglion. J Neurophysiol. 103: 17711784. (2010) [PDF]
  • Breza J.M., Curtis K.S., Contreras R.J. Monosodium glutamate but not linoleic acid differentially activates gustatory neurons in the rat geniculate ganglion. Chem Senses. 32(9):83346. (2007) [PDF]
  • Breza J.M., Curtis K.S., Contreras R.J. Temperature modulates taste responsiveness and stimulates gustatory neurons in the rat geniculate ganglion. J Neurophysiol. 95(2):674–85. (2006) [PDF]