Study: Food Intake Governed By Neuron Networks

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Shainhouse_240815In today’s modern society, food serves not only as an energy source, but as a coping mechanism. Emotional eating or comfort feeding helps people manage stress and emotions. Unfortunately, this behavior is a toxic cycle that feeds into further emotional and physical health complications.

A group of scientists from the Laboratoire Biologie Fonctionnelle et Adaptative (Université Paris Diderot) tried to gain a greater understanding of the role of energy needs and rewards of eating in food consumption.

The scientists studied a group of neurons found in mice. These neurons, called NPY/AgRP and found in the hypothalamus portion of the brain, play a role in food intake by stimulating appetite in times of hunger.

Scientists discovered that when these neurons were impaired, food intake was driven by a reward system. The mice demonstrated this by consuming excessive amounts of high-carbohydrate and high-fat foods that led to weight gain.

Researchers conclude that being exposed to high-calorie foods could cause brain circuits to become desensitized and possibly driven by a reward system, leading to an energy-rich yet nutrient-poor diet. This can lead to a disturbed feeding pattern that is dependent on the pleasure caused by food.

Sources for Today’s Article:
“Food intake, a fragile balance between neural pathways,” ScienceDaily web site August 24, 2015;
Denis, R.G.P., et al., “Palatability can drive feeding independent of AgRP neurons,” Cell Metabolism 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2015.07.011.

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Leah Shainhouse, R.D.

About the Author, Browse Leah's Articles

Leah Shainhouse is a Registered Dietitian with the College of Dietitians of Ontario and a member of the Dietitians of Canada. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science, Honors, in Nutritional Sciences from the University of British Columbia and went on to complete her dietetic training and Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition at McGill University. Leah has a strong desire to help shape the lives of individuals through a healthy lifestyle. She enjoys working with people to help... Read Full Bio »