The neural basis of overeating

Love indulging in a delightful meal, even though you are full? Then that’s the right study for you! Peleg-Raibstein and team investigated the role of different brain cells for the development of overeating behavior.

When you overeat, this is driven by both the pleasure, a hedonic component, and the undeniable urge, the motivational component, to keep eating. The nucleus accumbens (NAc) – a region suited in the basal forebrain – plays a crucial role in encoding both these components. Using cell-specific recording and optogenetic manipulation in healthy mice, the researchers tried to disentangle the role of two specific brain cell types in the NAc – D1 and D2.

They discovered that these two cell types distinctly impact and influence both components of eating. Specifically, D1 cells ignite our immediate affection for a palatable food upon first taste, while D2 cells shape our preference based on past experiences. In summary, this study unravels the intricate neural pathways determining our food choices, shedding light on the roots of prevalent overeating.

Mathilde C. C. Guillaumin, Paulius Viskaitis, Eva Bracey, Denis Burdakov, Daria Peleg-Raibstein. Disentangling the role of NAc D1 and D2 cells in hedonic eating, Molecular Psychiatry (2023).

Neurobehavioural Dynamics groub at ETH

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