Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Brain regions activated by food craving overlap with areas implicated in drug craving

05.11.2004


Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to reveal that food cravings activate brain areas related to emotion, memory and reward – areas also activated during drug-craving studies. Study lead author Marcia Levin Pelchat, PhD, a Monell Center sensory psychologist, comments, "This is consistent with the idea that cravings of all kinds, whether for food, drugs, or designer shoes, have common mechanisms."



Studies of food craving, possibly the evolutionary basis of all craving behavior, may provide insight into drug craving and how it contributes to maintenance and relapse of drug addiction. Pelchat notes, "Identifying the brain regions involved can tell us a great deal about the normal and pathological neurochemistry of craving, and in turn, lead us to better pharmacological treatments for obesity and drug addiction." During food craving episodes, craving-specific activation was seen in three regions of the brain: the hippocampus, insula, and caudate. These same three areas have also been reported to be involved in drug craving.

J. Daniel Ragland, PhD of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, was responsible for the imaging part of the study. Ragland comments, "The pattern of fMRI results suggests that memory areas of the brain responsible for associating a food with a reward are more important to food craving than are the actual reward centers." He goes on to say, "This result fits nicely with animal research that has shown that stimulation of memory centers is more effective than stimulation of reward centers in getting animals to work for drug rewards."


In the study, to be published in the December 2004 issue of NeuroImage, 10 healthy volunteers were not permitted to consume anything other than a vanilla nutritional supplement beverage for the one-and-a-half days before the imaging session. The researchers used the monotonous diet to increase the probability of cravings during fMRI sessions. Previous findings had shown that consuming a monotonous diet leads to large increases in the number of food cravings.

Subjects received enough of the beverage to provide sufficient calories and nutrients. A control group was allowed to eat whatever they wanted, along with several servings of the vanilla supplement. Each subject provided names of two foods that they "really like." To trigger cravings during the fMRI scan, names of the liked foods and the liquid diet were alternated on a screen. Subjects were instructed to think about the food listed on the screen, along with its taste, smell, and texture. The researchers decided to use words as cues – rather than pictures - so each subject could imagine their own most desirable version of the liked food.

After the session subjects reported whether they had experienced any food cravings. As expected, the monotonous diet increased the likelihood of food craving when imagining the liked foods. All monotonous diet participants reported food craving while imagining the liked foods, but not while visualizing the monotonous food.

Food cravings are very common: surveys estimate that almost 100% of young women and nearly 70% of young men report having experienced cravings during the past year. The high prevalence of craving behavior increases its potential nutritional impact, as cravings have been linked to snacking behavior and diet compliance, both related to obesity.

Pelchat notes the significance of activation of memory structures, "During a craving we have a sensory memory or template for the food that will satisfy the craving. The food we eat has to match that template for the craving to be satisfied. It’s as if our brain is saying, ’It has to be chocolate ice cream, lemon pie just won’t do.’" She continues, "Cravings are also like habits. We often reach for a craved food without thinking of it."

Looking to the future, Pelchat comments, "We need to know more about food cravings in pathological conditions such as obesity, alcoholism, cocaine addiction, and so on. If all these excesses of desire share common brain mechanisms, then it might be possible to use motivational trades-off to treat cravings for harmful substances by substituting craving for something healthier, such as good food."

Penn researchers Andrea Johnson, Robin Chan, and Jeffrey Valdez also contributed to the work.

Marcia Pelchat | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.monell.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>