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 New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources
29.05.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

nachricht Copper hydroxide nanoparticles provide protection against toxic oxygen radicals in cigarette smoke
29.05.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources

29.05.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA's SDO sees partial eclipse in space

29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>