Brain Circuitry Could Fuel Overeating

Brain Circuitry Could Fuel Overeating
Brain Circuitry Could Fuel Overeating. Credit | Adobe Stock

United States: Food smells delicious when you’re hungry. On the other hand, if you’re full, it can turn them off. According to a recent study, this is because of the interplay between two distinct brain regions that are involved in behavior motivation and sense of smell. And that might be the reason why, according to studies, some people find it difficult to quit eating when they’re full, which adds to obesity.

The weaker the connection between those two brain regions, the heavier people tend to become, results show.

Brain Circuitry and Food Perception

Food smells better when you’re hungry than when you’re full, which explains why eating is related to your urge to eat, according to Guangyu Zhou, co-author of the study and research assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “However, these signals may become confused if the brain circuits that support this behavior are disturbed, making food rewarding even after you are full.”

Connection to Obesity

A person may see an increase in BMI if this occurs. And that’s what we discovered, Zhou continued in a news release from Northwestern. “A person’s BMI is higher, on average, when the anatomical connection between these two brain regions is weaker.”

Olfactory Influence on Appetite

According to experts, odors have a significant influence on how motivated people are to engage in certain behaviors, such as eating. On the other hand, your level of hunger can affect how you perceive odors.
Yet, the interactions between different parts of the brain that cause smell to influence appetite are still poorly understood by experts.

MRI Analysis Reveals Insights

In order to conduct the study, which was published on May 16 in the Journal of Neuroscience, scientists examined MRI brain data that was acquired as part of a wider project to map the human brain.

The olfactory tubercule and the periaqueductal gray, two brain areas connected to BMI, were discovered to be correlated by researchers.

According to studies, the brain’s reward system and sense of smell are connected to olfactory tubercule.

Additionally, the periaqueductal gray plays a role in driving behavior in reaction to unpleasant emotions like pain and threat. It’s possible that this area contributes to suppressing eating as well.

The research team mapped the strength of the circuit between these two locations in humans for the first time.

Implications for Overeating Treatment

These kinds of healthy brain connections may help control eating habits by informing the person that eating after they are full doesn’t feel good.

But according to studies, those who have damaged or weak circuits linking these regions might not receive these signals and might continue eating even when they are not hungry.

Christina Zelano, an associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University and the principal study author, stated that “understanding how these basic processes work in the brain is an important prerequisite to future work that can lead to treatments for overeating.”