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Researchers separate food consumption from cravings

Matthew Will and his team recently discovered the chemical circuits and mechanisms in the brain that separate food consumption from cravings. Knowing more about these mechanisms could help researchers develop drugs that reduce overeating. Photo courtesy of MU News Bureau. 


Researchers investigating eating disorders often study chemical and neurological functions in the brain to discover clues to overeating. Understanding non-homeostatic eating — or eating that is driven more by palatability, habit and food cues — and how it works in the brain may help neuroscientists determine how to control cravings, maintain healthier weights and promote healthier lifestyles. Scientists at the University of Missouri recently discovered the chemical circuits and mechanisms in the brain that separate food consumption from cravings. Knowing more about these mechanisms could help researchers develop drugs that reduce overeating.

“Non-homeostatic eating can be thought of as eating dessert after you’ve eaten an entire meal,” said Kyle Parker, a former grad student and investigator in the MU Bond Life Sciences Center. “I may know that I’m not hungry, but this dessert is delicious so I’m going to eat it anyway. We’re looking at what neural circuitry is involved in driving that behavior.”

Matthew J. Will, an associate professor of psychological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science, a research investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center and Parker’s adviser, says for behavior scientists, eating is described as a two-step process called the appetitive and consummatory phases.

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Campus: UMC
Key words: Health, MU Campus, Science,
County: Boone

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