Overeating Linked to Brain Wiring

By Amy Taylor on May 15, 2017

A new study from the University of California, Los Angeles found that people whose brains are wired to produce a more muted response to food may ultimately compensate by eating more, thereby raising their risk for obesity.  

The research also provides possible reasons why men and women differ in the way they process the experience of eating. It is known that women favour a more emotional response to the eating experience while men focus more on how the food satisfies their senses. Such brain-wiring differences may also provide explanations on why women struggle more with weight loss than men. 

Looking at the brain scans of 86 healthy men and women, the UCLA researchers studied how eating affected activity patterns of the neurotransmitter dopamine, a so-called "reward" chemical that is critical to the way the brain responds to both satiety (eating) and deprivation (hunger). 

According to Arpana Gupta, co-author of the study, the initial finding was that having "a less responsive dopamine system" appears to make both men and women less sensitive to food, and thereby "more prone to food intake in order to compensate for this deficit," 

But the striking finding really, according to Gupta, is that men and women are simply wired differently when it comes to responses to eating. For instance, a woman’s brain seems to draw a significant neurological link between food and the part of the brain that processes emotions. 

Gupta and her team found that women tended to exhibit a relatively muted response to food in brain regions that regulate emotion. That dynamic was not seen among obese men. 

But she notes that "considerable sex-related differences have previously been identified in factors driving craving and drug-seeking in substance abuse,"  

"At this point, these are only speculations which need to be tested in future experiments," 

Source of this article: 

Do you overeat? Your brain wiring may be why

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