Tuesday January 28, 2020

Brain Circuit can Alter Food Impulsivity: Study

Brain circuit linked to food impulsivity identified

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Brain
Certain circuits in brain can reduce overeating. Pixabay

Researchers have identified a specific circuit in the brain that alters food impulsivity, creating the possibility scientists can someday develop treatment to address the problem of overeating.

Impulsivity, or responding without thinking about the consequences of an action, has been linked to excessive food intake, binge eating, weight gain and obesity, along with several psychiatric disorders including drug addiction and excessive gambling.

“There’s underlying physiology in your brain that is regulating your capacity to say no to (impulsive eating),” said study lead author Emily Noble, Assistant Professor at University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

“In experimental models, you can activate that circuitry and get a specific behavioural response,” Noble said.

Brain eating
There’s underlying physiology in your brain that is regulating your capacity to say no to impulsive eating. Pixabay

Using a rat model, researchers focused on a subset of brain cells that produce a type of transmitter in the hypothalamus called melanin concentrating hormone (MCH).

While previous research has shown that elevating MCH levels in the brain can increase food intake, this study is the first to show that MCH also plays a role in impulsive behaviour, Noble said.

“We found that when we activate the cells in the brain that produce MCH, animals become more impulsive in their behaviour around food,” Noble said.

“Activating this specific pathway of MCH neurons increased impulsive behaviour without affecting normal eating for caloric need or motivation to consume delicious food,” Noble said.

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“Understanding that this circuit, which selectively affects food impulsivity, exists opens the door to the possibility that one day we might be able to develop therapeutics for overeating that help people stick to a diet without reducing normal appetite or making delicious foods less delicious,” she added.

The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications. (IANS)

Next Story

Horror Movies Manipulate Brain to Enhance Excitement: Study

Know why people get goosebumps while watching horror movies

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Horror Movies
Finnish researchers mapped neural activity as study participants watched horror movies, and found that our brains are continuously anticipating and preparing us for action in response to threat. Pixabay

Do you know why some people like to watch horror movies like ‘The Conjuring’ despite the scare and frequent shouting episodes? If we ask researchers, this is because scary flicks manipulate brain expertly to enhance excitement.

Finnish researchers mapped neural activity as study participants watched horror movies, and found that our brains are continuously anticipating and preparing us for action in response to threat.

“Horror movies exploit this expertly to enhance our excitement,” said researcher Matthew Hudson from University of Turku, Finland.

People found horror that was psychological in nature and based on real events the scariest, and were far more scared by things that were unseen or implied rather than what they could actually see.

Horror Movies
People found horror movies that were psychological in nature to be very interesting. Pixabay

The researchers first established the 100 best and scariest horror movies of the past century and how they made people feel.

Firstly, 72 per cent of people report watching at last one horror movie every six months, and the reasons for doing so, besides the feelings of fear and anxiety, was primarily that of excitement.

“Watching horror movies was also an excuse to socialise, with many people preferring to watch horror movies with others than on their own,” the findings showed.

While all movies have our heroes face some kind of threat to their safety or happiness, horror movies up the ante by having some kind of superhuman or supernatural threat that cannot be reasoned with or fought easily.

The research team at the University of Turku, Finland, studied why we are drawn to such things as entertainment?

People found horror that was psychological in nature and based on real events the scariest, and were far more scared by things that were unseen or implied rather than what they could actually see.

The team discovered two key findings.

“The creeping foreboding dread that occurs when one feels that something isn’t quite right, and the instinctive response we have to the sudden appearance of a monster that make us jump out of our skin,” said principal investigator Professor Lauri Nummenmaa.

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During those times when anxiety is slowly increasing, regions of the brain involved in visual and auditory perception become more active, as the need to attend for cues of threat in the environment become more important.

“After a sudden shock, brain activity is more evident in regions involved in emotion processing, threat evaluation, and decision making, enabling a rapid response,” said the researchers. (IANS)