Researchers have found brain circuit linked to food impulsivity
Saying no to delicious food could be hard, but irresistible craving can land us in a dangerous situation. However, researchers have now found the brain circuit linked to over-eating which could put the problem under control.
The state of impulsivity has been linked to excessive food intake that can lead to weight gain and obesity, which later can have several psychiatric disorders including drug addiction.
A study on this can possibly make scientists develop certain therapeutics to address the issue of over-eating. A team that includes a faculty member at the University of Georgia has now identified a specific circuit in the brain that alters food impulsivity.
The team's findings were published recently in the journal Nature Communications.
Emily Noble, an assistant professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences who served as lead author on the paper said "there is underlying physiology in your brain that is regulating your capacity to say no to (impulsive eating),"
"In experimental models, you can activate that circuitry and get a specific behavioural response," she added.
The study came to notice that a group of brain cells that produce a type of transmitter in the hypothalamus called melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) is what to be focused on.
"We found that when we activate the cells in the brain that produce MCH, animals become more impulsive in their behaviour around food," Noble said.
To test impulsivity, researchers trained rats to press a lever to receive a "delicious, high-fat, high-sugar" pellet, Noble said. However, the rat had to wait 20 seconds between lever presses. If the rat pressed the lever too soon, it had to wait an additional 20 seconds.
Results indicated MCH doesn't affect how much the animals liked the food or how hard they were willing to work for the food. Rather, the circuit acted on the animals' inhibitory control, or their ability to stop themselves from trying to get the food."