Food cue-related brain activity linked to obesity?

April 26, 2007

A unique pattern of gene expression observed in rats may be linked to a conditioned desire for food and excessive food intake, an article published today in BMC Biology suggests.

It’s well known that food-associated cues, such as advertising, can influence food intake. But the underlying neurobiology is far from clear.

Craig A. Schiltz and colleagues from the University of Wisconsin Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, USA, created an experimental set up that allowed them to study patterns of gene expression linked to this motivational state - rats conditioned to expect a chocolate-flavoured treat in a particular environment, were subsequently denied their reward.

The research, conducted in the laboratory of Ann E. Kelly showed that expression of a handful of immediate early genes was increased in cortical, striatal, thalamic and hypothalamic brain regions. Food-related cues triggered dramatic changes in the functional connectivity of circuits involved in adaptive behaviour. For example, increased connectivity was seen between the cortex and two other regions - the amygdala and the striatum. Within the latter, there was a shift in activity from the outer shell to the inner core of the nucleus accumbens and an increased expression of the opioid-encoding proenkephalin gene.

Taken together, these results suggest that food-associated cues have a powerful influence on neuronal activity and gene expression in brain areas mediating complicated functions such as cognition and emotion, and more basic abilities such as arousal and energy balance. The pattern of activation differs from that elicited by neutral cues, and may well contribute to a conditioned motivational state that can lead to excessive food intake.

Source: Biomed Central

Explore further: Unlocking the rice immune system

Related Stories

Unlocking the rice immune system

July 24, 2015

A bacterial signal that when recognized by rice plants enables the plants to resist a devastating blight disease has been identified by a multi-national team of researchers led by scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy ...

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.