This Is Your Brain Speaking: Stop Overeating

What would you do if it were possible to find the exact circuitry in your brain that caused you to overeat? Now scientists have done just that.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine have pinpointed the precise cellular connections responsible for triggering this behavior, according to

Sixty years ago they were able to electronically stimulate a part of the brain to make mice overeat, but this new study may lead us to insight about a cause for obesity that could lead to treatments for anorexia, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder – the most prevalent eating disorder in the United States. In other words,
help us find more ways to turn off the signal that tells us, when we see fudge cake, "Eat me, eat me!"

The researchers' work "drills down to the precise biological mechanisms that drive binge eating and will lead us away from stigmatizing explanations that invoke blame and a lack of willpower," quotes Cynthia Bulik, Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders at UNC School of Medicine and the Gillings School of Global Public Health.  Bulik was not part of the research team.

Scientists used light on certain synapses (called BNST) in the mice brains, and they began to eat voraciously, even though they had already been well fed. Moreover, the mice showed a strong preference for high-fat foods. “They would essentially eat up to half their daily caloric intake in about 20 minutes,” Garret Stuber, PhD, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and department of cell biology and physiology and lead author, told “This suggests that this BNST pathway could play a role in food consumption and pathological conditions such as binge eating." reports that "stimulating the BNST also led the mice to exhibit behaviors associated with reward, suggesting that shining light on BNST cells enhanced the pleasure of eating. On the flip side, shutting down the BNST pathway caused mice to show little interest in eating, even if they had been deprived of food."

Further study might lead to potential targets for drugs to treat certain populations of patients with eating disorders, according to


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