Brain hungers for dopamine

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Brain hungers for dopamine - MPG.de

Neurotransmitter release regulates our eating behaviour

When it comes to our food intake, we are only partially in control. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Cologne were able to show that our gastrointestinal tract is in constant contact with the brain and uses reward stimuli to control our desire for food.

Dopamine is the most important messenger substance of the reward system in the brain and is released when, for example, goals are achieved or desire for something motivates us to take action. In elaborate studies, research group leaders Marc Tittgemeyer and Heiko Backes have investigated the question of how food intake in the body is actually controlled. The scientists offered milkshakes to volunteers and at the same time measured the release of dopamine in the brain using a newly developed method.

With the first taste of the milkshake, the brain immediately releases an initial wave of dopamine. As soon as the drink then reaches the stomach, another round of dopamine is released. "Previous experiments with mice have shown that when food reaches the stomach, it is reported to the brain. Our results show that this also happens in humans and, in addition, which specific brain areas are involved," explains Tittgemeyer.
 
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