Joseph Breza

A photo of Joseph Breza

Associate Professor


341J Science Complex


[email protected]


  • 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 357 Sensation and Perception (Undergraduate)
  • NSCI 301 Introduction to Neuroscience (Undergraduate)
  • NSCI 401 Advanced Neuroscience (Undergraduate)
  • PSY 633 Cognitive Neuroscience (Graduate)

Publications and Presentations

  • Leijon SCM, Neves AF, Breza JM, Simon SA, Chaudhari N, Roper SD (2019) Oral thermosensing by murine trigeminal neurons: modulation by capsaicin, menthol, and mustard oil. bioRxiv 486480; doi:

  • Travers SP, Breza JM, Harley J, Zhu J, and Travers JB. Neurons with diverse phenotypes project from the caudal to the rostral nucleus of the solitary tract. J Comp Neurol. 1-20, (2018).

  • Raymond MA, Mast TG, and Breza JM. An Open-source lickometer and microstructure analysis program. HardwareX 4(e00035), 2018.\

  • Whiddon ZD, Rynberg ST, Mast TG, Breza JM. Aging Decreases Chorda-Tympani Nerve Responses to NaCl and Alters Morphology of Fungiform Taste Pores in Rats. Chem Senses 43(2): 117-28, 2018.

  • Mast TG, Breza JM, Contreras RJ. Thirst Increases Chorda Tympani Responses to Sodium Chloride. Chem Senses 42(8): 675-81, 2017.

  • Lu BO, Breza JM, and Contreras RJ. Temperature Influences Chorda Tympani Nerve Responses to Sweet, Salty, Sour, Umami, and Bitter Stimuli in Mice. Chem Senses41(9): 727-36, 2016.

  • Breza JM and Travers SP. P2X2 Terminal Field Demarcates a “Transition Zone” for Gustatory and Mechanosensory Processing in the Mouse Nucleus Tractus Solitarius. Chem Senses 41(6):515-24, 2016.

  • 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. 107:1632–1648. (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: 533–539. (2012) [PDF]
  • Breza J.M. and Contreras R.J. Acetic acid modulates salt taste in rats.. J. Neurophysiol. 108: 2405–2418. (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): 279–92. (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: 1771–1784. (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):833–46. (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]