You are on a diet, but looking in the refrigerator sweep away everything without a trace. Or made a firm decision to eat normal food, but smelled popcorn in the lobby of the cinema and now you have a large bucket in your hands - and it’s not salad at all.
This seems to be such a commonplace situation that it even seems to be the norm. But have you ever wondered what such food impulsiveness depends on and is it possible to somehow prevent it?
This question was asked by a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, and scientists were able to identify a specific circuit in the brain that alters the level of impulsivity of eating behavior. The team's findings were recently published in the journal Nature Communications.
“There is a certain physiology in our brains that regulates the ability to say no,” explains Emily Noble, associate professor at the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences, who was the lead author of the article..
In training in rats, the researchers focused on a subset of brain cells that produce a type of transmitter in the hypothalamus called melanin-concentrating hormone (MCN).
Previous studies have shown that an increase in MCN levels in the brain increases food intake, but it has now become clear that this is due to an increase in impulsive behavior.
The researchers trained rats to push a lever to produce a "tasty, high-fat, high-sugar" pellet. However, the rat had to pause 20 seconds between presses. If the rat pressed the lever too quickly, it would have to wait another 20 seconds.
The researchers then used advanced techniques to activate a specific MCI pathway from the hypothalamus to the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in learning and memory function. Rats with activated MCI couldn't wait for the 20 seconds they were supposed to be playing against themselves.
Additional experiments have shown that MCH does not affect the love of food or the motivation to get it. However, the animals found it difficult to wait for the right time due to the impaired ability to control their impulses.
Thus, scientists believe they have found the key to overeating. “We found a scheme that selectively influences the impulsivity of eating behavior. This opens the door to the development of drugs that will help people stay on a diet without impairing their normal appetite or making delicious foods less tasty.”