Scientists have found out why you may want a tasty snack after a hearty meal

Scientists have found out why you may want a tasty snack after a hearty meal


Why do you want high-calorie food after a hearty lunch

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A new study in mice has shown that the cells responsible for finding food are located in the part of the brain responsible for panic. If this discovery is confirmed in humans, it could help treat RCP.

This was stated by psychologists of the University of California. They are the results of their research published in Nature Communications, writes Science Daily.

Scientists have discovered a circuit in the brains of mice that makes them crave and search for food, even when they are not hungry. When scientists specifically stimulated this area in the brain, the rodents began to energetically search for food. They chose high-calorie foods, such as chocolate, over carrots.

It is interesting that the brain cells responsible for such a search do not belong to the hunger zone, but are associated with panic.

The area we are studying is called the periaqueductal gray (PAG). It is located in the brain stem, which is a very ancient structure in evolutionary history. Therefore, this region is functionally similar in humans and mice.

Although our findings were a surprise, it makes sense why foraging is rooted in such an ancient part of the brain. This process is something that all animals must do,” explained UCLA associate professor of psychology and study author Avishek Adhikari.

Fear and anxiety help animals assess risks and minimize the impact of threats.

Activation of the entire PAG region produces a pronounced panic response in both mice and humans.

But when we selectively stimulated only this specific cluster of PAG neurons, the rodents felt not fear, but panic, and began to search for food in a chaotic manner.”– adds the scientist.

However, rodents were not only interested in tasty food. For example, satiated mice began to chase crickets and non-prey foods. Stimulation of the PAG also led the animals to follow moving inedible objects, such as ping-pong balls.

Scientists note that in general, mice try to avoid feeling hungry if they can. During the experiments, they found that the rodents had a desire to eat, but it was not hunger.

We believe that this chain reaction causes cravings for very high-calorie foods. These PAG cells can make the mouse eat more caloric food even in the absence of hunger“, Avishek noted.

Satisfied mice with activated PAG vgat cells craved fatty food so much that they were willing to endure kicks to get it. In contrast to them, ordinary satiated mice did not do this.

However, when the scientists introduced a protein that weakened the activity of these cells in the brain stem, the rodents, on the contrary, reduced the activity of searching for food, even if they were hungry.

“We are conducting new experiments based on these findings and have learned that these cells encourage mice to consume fatty and sweet foods, but not vegetables. This suggests that this scheme may increase the consumption of unhealthy food.”said University of California researcher Fernando Reiss.

Like mice, humans also have vgat PAG cells in the brainstem. It is possible that if this system is overactive in a person, they may feel more dependent on food or crave it when they are not hungry.

Likewise, the opposite is true – if the area is not active enough, the animals may get less pleasure from eating, which can potentially contribute to anorexia.

If discovered in humans, the foraging chain could help treat some types of eating disorders.


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