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 Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas

19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

New creepy, crawly search and rescue robot developed at Ben-Gurion U

19.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Metal too 'gummy' to cut? Draw on it with a Sharpie or glue stick, science says

19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>