University of Missouri Did you know that there could be an area in our brain that regulates the consumption of food? Pertaining to that, scientists from the University of Missouri conducted a study. A rat was led to a place where fatty food was kept, but these study experts could not make the rat eat. The outcome of the study claimed that disabling the basolateral amygdala which is a brain region implicated in regulating emotion, particularly obstructed the intake of the fatty diet. Shockingly, it apparently had no effect on the rat wanting to look for the food constantly.

It appears that two different brain circuits apparently control the motivation to seek and consume food. Experts reveal that understanding how this circuit in the brain works may provide insight into the exact networks and chemicals in our brain that determine the factors influencing our feeding habits.

The release of opioids i.e. the pleasure chemicals that may result in euphoria, into the brain apparently generates binge eating in non-hungry rats. It was found that by switching off the basolateral amygdala, this kind of binge-eating could be obstructed. This was the opinion of Matthew Will, assistant professor of psychological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science and investigator in the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center.

Will commented, “A key to curbing the obesity epidemic in America is controlling the desire to binge eat. Humans have more programming to start and continue eating than to stop eating, especially when they have a bowl of ice cream in front of them. Most of us would finish it even if we weren’t hungry.”

Since the rats were not given any food for 24 hours, disabling the basolateral amygdala apparently had no effect on feeding in rats. This may propose that the basolateral amygdala is particularly occupied in the overconsumption of food based on its palatability or pleasure which was supposedly motivated by opioids, rather than the level of hunger.

Will mentioned, “The finding that the basolateral amygdala only appears involved in the opioid produced consumption was the most surprising part of the study. Normally, if a rat stops eating, they will lie down and take it easy. In this case, they showed all signs of still wanting to eat, but didn’t.”

When food was available in short supply in the past, humans may have required this ‘binge eating’ guideline to eat sufficient food when it was on hand. But now when humans may have access to foods which are high in sugar and fat, 24 hours a day, this guideline may cause humans to overeat.

This study ‘Behavioral characterization of amygdala involvement in mediating intra-accumbens opioid-driven feeding behavior’ was published in Behavioral Neuroscience.