Stressed individuals might be particularly prone to binge eating or drug addiction because of the high levels of the stress hormone corticotropin-releasing factor in their brain. A study published today in the open access journal BMC Biology (http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcbiol/) shows that rats with levels of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) in their brain similar to the levels experienced by humans when they are stressed show an exaggerated craving for a reward – a piece of sugar - whenever presented with a cue that had previously been associated with that reward. This result explains why stressed individuals might be more likely to experience strong cravings for rewards and compulsively indulge in pleasurable activities such as eating or taking drugs.
Susana Peciña and Kent Berridge from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Jay Schulkin from Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA, injected rats with either a high dose (500ng/0.2 ml) or a low dose (250ng/ 0.2 ml) of CRF. They injected the rats in a part of the brain called nucleus accumbens, known to be involved in the mediation of both pleasurable rewards and stress signals in humans as well as rats. They observed the behaviour of the rats in response to a cue – a 30-second long tone- that had previously been associated with the release of a reward, in the form of sugar pellets. When they heard the cue, the rats pressed on a lever that they expected to release more sugar pellets. The authors made sure that the rats did not experience stress as a result of CRF itself or of other factors in the experimental set-up.
Peciña et al.’s results show that injection of a high dose of CRF tripled the intensity of bursts of sugar craving, as indicated by the intensity of the lever-pressing activity lever. The lever-pressing activity was only enhanced if the injection of CRF was followed by the cue – it did not increase following the injection alone. The low dose of CRF, or an empty injection, also failed to enhance the lever-pressing activity significantly.
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Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
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The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
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