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: Nervous system may play bigger role in infections than previously known

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Boosting biogasoline production in microbes

Oct 27, 2014

In the on-going effort to develop advanced biofuels as a clean, green and sustainable source of liquid transportation fuels, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Joint BioEnergy Institute ...

Are male brains wired to ignore food for sex?

Oct 16, 2014

Choosing between two good things can be tough. When animals must decide between feeding and mating, it can get even trickier. In a discovery that might ring true even for some humans, researchers have shown that male brains ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

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.