Researchers discover brain circuit that can help reduce food intake: Study

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Researchers have identified a group of nerve cells, which when activated, can reduce food intake. (Source: File Photo)

We often blame ourselves for not being able to resist that leftover slice of pizza and end up overeating. But, according to a new study, it might not really be our fault. Researchers at The Rockefeller University in New York City, have found evidence that the brain does intervene to perform some decision-making about whether to proceed with eating or not.

According to a paper that features in the journal Neuron, researchers have identified a group of nerve cells, which when activated, can reduce food intake. For the research, the team studied the feeding behaviour of mice.

The study says that, “the brain has complex circuitry that locks appetite to memories of finding and enjoying the food. This drives the feeding behaviours necessary for survival”. The researchers have discovered a circuit that will include one mechanism that does the opposite, i.e curbing the compulsion to eat in response to food.

According to the study, “the mechanism centers on dopamine 2 receptor (hD2R) neurons in the hippocampus, a brain structure that has a role in memory formation and the regulation of emotions”, says a report on Medical News Today. The neurons, according to the study, are a part of the brain circuit that regulates eating habits and are also involved with memory.

With obesity leading to more deaths globally than being underweight, according to the World Health Organisation,  this study will prove beneficial.

“Associative learning of food cues that link location in space to food availability guides feeding behaviour in mammals. However, the function of specific neurons that are elements of the higher-order, cognitive circuitry controlling feeding behaviour is largely unexplored”, the study says.

Treating obesity or excess weight is usually focused on changing lifestyle habits. But following healthy meal plans and rigorous workout rituals might not be the only way ahead. Gaining a better understanding of the brain circuits that control eating impulses could help improve such treatments.