Thursday, 31 May 2018

Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice?

A study with mice has demonstrated that the sensations of 'sweet' and 'bitter' are processed in the insular cortex of the brain which is connected to other neural areas, including the amygdala, where they are interpreted as 'nice' and 'nasty', respectively ( The authors suggest that sweet is interpreted as nice because the foods with this characteristic are high in calories. Using genetically-modified mice, they were able to photo-stimulate the responses without the mice ingesting anything (causing subjects to avoid rooms when the bitter sensation was triggered via the amygdala but to seek them out when the sweet alternative was selected). The mice also showed markedly increased ingestion of neutral water when the sweet area was stimulated. They suggest that it may be possible to re-programme phenomena like sugar craving, helping people to reduce their intake of this material.

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