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For the first time, science has discovered the neurons responsible for binging

For the first time, science has discovered the neurons responsible for binging

Gluttony, this desire to eat something even when the stomach is not screaming for something hunger, It's not a random thing. In fact, the fault lies in a group of cells located deep in the brain that are responsible for the compulsive behavior of searching for food.

This is the first time the study has pinpointed the exact part of the body responsible for binging. The research results were published in the magazine Nature Communications.

In addition to researchers from the University of California (University of California, Los Angeles), in the United States, the study included a group of Brazilian scientists from the UFABC (Universidad Federal ABC). The leader of the experiments was Brazilian Fernando Reis, from the University of California, and the research also received financial support from FAPESP.

Control gluttony

According to the study, control of gluttony takes place in neurons located in the core area of ​​the brain. The surrounding gray matter is called the lumen.

The neurons are known as VGAT cells and carry a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). This, in turn, plays a crucial role in regulating neuronal activity.

Understand the research

Previous studies have shown that the periaqueductal region in mice and humans is similar. Thus, scientists used mice to conduct a series of experiments using optogenetic technology.

This method consists of making neurons sensitive to light in order to activate or inhibit them. However, to make this possible, the researchers injected a virus with the light-sensitive protein they obtained from algae into nerve cells.

In addition, laboratory mice also grow optical fibers. The idea was that the material could deliver light to neurons infected with the virus and thus sensitive to light.

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He explained: “In this way, we can make cells more or less active according to the wavelength of the light emitted.” Julian IkebaraThe study's co-author told CNN.

When VGAT cells were stimulated, the animals began frantically searching for food. They also ate more food than usual, even when they felt completely full, which is similar to binge eating or binge eating.

In general, they were willing to overcome obstacles to reach some food, and moreover, when certain neurons were inhibited, the mice ate less, even when they were hungry.

Also during the research, the scientists noticed that the animals liked the stimulation of VGAT cells, because they were close to the box in which this happened. Researchers believe this may be related to the positive feeling of foraging.

Advances in science

Now, scientists want to understand whether the same thing happens in human brains. Furthermore, they intend to study whether this “motivated” gluttony encourages the search for certain foods, such as those rich in proteins and sugars.

Finally, the research authors believe the findings could help the scientific community in future studies and development of treatments Eating disorderssuch as anorexia or compulsivity.