Food cue-related brain activity linked to obesity?

Apr 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: A real-time tracking system developed to monitor dangerous bacteria inside the body

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

MasterCard, Zwipe announce fingerprint-sensor card

6 hours ago

On Friday, MasterCard and Oslo, Norway-based Zwipe announced the launch of a contactless payment card featuring an integrated fingerprint sensor. Say goodbye to PINs. This card, they said, is the world's ...

Plastic nanoparticles also harm freshwater organisms

7 hours ago

Organisms can be negatively affected by plastic nanoparticles, not just in the seas and oceans but in freshwater bodies too. These particles slow the growth of algae, cause deformities in water fleas and impede communication ...

Atomic trigger shatters mystery of how glass deforms

7 hours ago

Throw a rock through a window made of silica glass, and the brittle, insulating oxide pane shatters. But whack a golf ball with a club made of metallic glass—a resilient conductor that looks like metal—and the glass not ...

US company sells out of Ebola toys

16 hours ago

They might look tasteless, but satisfied customers dub them cute and adorable. Ebola-themed toys have proved such a hit that one US-based company has sold out.

UN biodiversity meet commits to double funding

16 hours ago

A UN conference on preserving the earth's dwindling resources wrapped up Friday with governments making a firm commitment to double biodiversity aid to developing countries by 2015.

Recommended for you

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

2 hours ago

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments : 0