New research from Yale University shows that activating neurons in an area of the brain not previously associated with feeding can produce binge-eating behavior in mice.
When activated by light probes, GABA neurons in an area of the brain called the zona incerta induce mice to return repeatedly to feed, Anthony van den Pol and Xiaobing Zhang of the Department of Neurosurgery report May 26 in the journal Science.
“What was most remarkable was the rapidity with which the mice began to eat,” said van den Pol. “Although many brain regions contribute to the regulation of energy balance and food intake, I am not aware of any other part of the brain that can be stimulated to generate feeding within two to three seconds.”
Mice gained considerable body weight if their zona incerta was stimulated, but then returned to normal weight in the absence of stimulation.
“The parallel with human binge-eating is interesting,” van den Pol said. “The mice prefer the animal equivalent of potato chips, candy, or cake.”
The mice seemed to enjoy the stimulation, staying in the part of the chamber where zona incerta neurons had been activated even when researchers were not actively stimulating the region.
Research has primarily focused on the medial and lateral hypothalamus as centers for feeding behavior and largely ignored the nearby zona incerta. However, some patients who undergo deep brain stimulation for treatment of movement disorders show increased interest in eating, perhaps due to stimulation of nearby zone incerta, van den Pol noted.
Primary funding for the research was provided by the National Institutes of Health.
Reference: “Rapid binge-like eating and body weight gain driven by zona incerta GABA neuron activation” Xiaobing Zhang and Anthony N. van den Pol, 26 May 2017, Science.
I have read through other blogs, but they are bloated and more confusing than your post. I hope you continue to have such quality posts to share with everyone! I believe a lot of people will be surprised to read this article!