Sunday February 23, 2020

What Happens When Hunger Hits? Why Do We Turn “Hangry”?

"We find that feeling hangry happens when you feel unpleasantness due to hunger"

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What Happens When Hunger Hits? Why Do We Turn
What Happens When Hunger Hits? Why Do We Turn "Hangry"?, Pixabay

Ever experienced anger when hunger pangs hit you? According to research, it may be due to a complicated emotional response involving an interplay of biology, personality and environmental cues.

The study showed that hungry individuals reported greater unpleasant emotions like feeling stressed and hateful when they were not explicitly focused on their own emotions.

“We all know that hunger can sometimes affect our emotions and perceptions of the world around us, but it’s only recently that the expression hangry, meaning bad-tempered or irritable because of hunger, was accepted by the Oxford Dictionary,” said lead author Jennifer MacCormack from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, US.

In a lab experiment, published in the journal Emotion, involving 200 university students, the team asked the participants to either to fast or eat beforehand and then asked them to complete a tedious exercise on a computer that was programmed to crash without their knowledge. They were also blamed for the crash.

Angry emoticon
Angry emoticon, pixabay

After this, they answered a questionnaire which showed that hungry participants thought that the researcher conducting the experiment was more judgmental or harsh.

Those who spent time thinking about their emotions, even when hungry, did not report these shifts in emotions or social perceptions, proving the importance of awareness.

“We find that feeling hangry happens when you feel unpleasantness due to hunger but interpret those feelings as strong emotions about other people or the situation you’re in,” said co-author Kristen Lindquist from the varsity.

 

angry green apple
angry green apple, pixabay

Also read: Syria turns the school play grounds into vegetable gardens to feed hungry children

“Our bodies play a powerful role in shaping our moment-to-moment experiences, perceptions and behaviors — whether we are hungry versus full, tired versus rested or sick versus healthy,” MacCormack said. (IANS)

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Here’s how Casual Drinking Turns into Heavy Drinking

You never know when your casual drinking can turn into heavy drinking

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Heavy Drinking
Certain neurons are responsible to turn your casual drinking into heavy drinking. Lifetime Stock

Don’t just blame it on his friends if your hubby has suddenly started drinking more in recent times as scientists have now discovered neurons in a specific brain region that might be responsible for triggering sudden uptick in alcohol consumption.

Researchers have long known that a region of the brain called the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) plays a role in behaviours related to alcohol use and consumption in general.

Now, a team at University of North Carolina’s school of medicine have found a specific neural circuit that, when altered, caused animal models to drink less alcohol.

“The fact that these neurons promote reward-like behaviour, that extremely low levels of alcohol consumption activate these cells, and that activation of these neurons drive alcohol drinking in animals without extensive prior drinking experience suggests that they may be important for early alcohol use and reward,” elaborated senior study author Zoe McElligott, assistant professor of psychiatry and pharmacology.

“By understanding the function of this circuit, we can better predict what happens in the brains of people who transition from casual alcohol use to subsequent abuse of alcohol, and the development of alcohol use disorders”.

Drinking Alcohol
A few neurons are responsible for triggering alcohol consumption. Lifetime Stock

McElligott investigated if a population of neurons that express a specific neuropeptide (neurotensin or NTS) contributes to reward-like behaviours and alcohol drinking.

She was especially interested in these neurons in the context of inexperienced alcohol use, such as when a person first begins to drink alcohol.

Also, NTS neurons are a subpopulation of other neurons in this brain region that have been implicated in anxiety and fear.

Using modern genetic and viral technologies in male mice, McElligott and colleagues found that selectively lesioning or ablating the NTS neurons in the specific brain region, while maintaining other types of CeA neurons, would cause the animals to drink less alcohol.

This manipulation did not either alter anxiety-like behaviour or affect the consumption of other palatable liquids such as sucrose, saccharin and bitter quinine solutions.

“We found that these NTS neurons in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) send a strong projection to the hindbrain, where they inhibit the parabrachial nucleus, near the brainstem,” McElligott explained.

Using optogenetics — a technique where light activates these neurons — the researchers stimulated the terminal projections of the CeA-NTS neurons in the parabrachial and found that this stimulation inhibited the neurons in the parabrachial.

“Furthermore, when we stimulated this projection, animals would drink more alcohol as compared to when they had an opportunity to drink alcohol without laser stimulation,” McElligott said in a paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience.The team hopes to explore how alcohol experience may change these neurons over time.

Also Read- 7 Jobs that You Should Outsource for Your Business

Would these cells respond differently after animals have been drinking high quantities of alcohol over time?

“We also want to discover which populations of neurons in the parabrachial are receiving inputs from these neurons. Fully understanding this circuit could be the key to developing therapeutics to help people with alcohol use disorders,” said the researchers. (IANS)