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The brain rewards us twice for food: when we eat and when food reaches the stomach



A human study from the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism in Germany suggests that the release of dopamine in the brain occurs in both periods.

The release of dopamine occurs every time. Pixabay

We know that a good meal can stimulate the release of dopamine, the hormone of well-being, and now a human study at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism suggests that the release of dopamine in the brain occurs at two different times. At the moment food is consumed and when it reaches the stomach, as described in the article on this work published on Thursday in the journal Cell Metabolism. (Read: Eye to junk food)

"Thanks to the new positron emission tomography (PET) technology we developed, we could not only find two dopamine release peaks, but we also identified specific areas of the brain that were associated with these releases." says author Marc Tittgemeyer, head of the Translational Neurocircuitery Group at the Institute. "While the first release occurred in areas of the brain associated with reward and sensory perception, release after ingestion involved additional regions associated with higher cognitive functions," he says.

In a study of 12 healthy volunteers, they received tasty cocktails or a tasteless solution, while data was recorded using PET. Interestingly, the desire for shock was in proportion to the amount of dopamine released in some areas of the brain during the first tasting. But the greater the thirst, the less dopamine is released. (We suggest: why cookies are irresistible? Neuroscientists react)

"On the one hand, the release of dopamine reflects our subjective desire to eat food, on the other hand our desire seems to suppress the release of intestinal-induced dopamine," says Heiko Backes, leader of the Multimodal Brain Metabolism group at the Institute and coprimer author in the study of Sharmili Edwin Thanarajah.

Intestinal-induced suppression release can cause excessive consumption of highly desirable foods. "We continue eating until we release enough dopamine," says Backes, but adds that this hypothesis has not yet been proven in subsequent studies. Previous experiments have shown the release of intestinal-induced dopamine, but for the first time it is demonstrated in humans, according to the authors of the work. (You may be interested in: our second brain)


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