The one thing I love the most about Halloween is I can eat excessive amounts of candy and receive zero judgment. After just a piece, I feel like it’s impossible to stop — until I get a stomachache.
Why can't I stop eating Halloween candy? And why can’t some people stop overeating and abusing drugs? A team of scientists just found that these behaviors and disorders may not be your fault but associated with a brain circuit.
A brain circuit is linked with appetite for food or drugs
In your brain, lateral hypothalamus controls your feeding behavior, while ventral hippocampus controls your recognition of the feeling of fullness. When neurons in the former area signal a hormone called melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) to the later area, it causes an impulsivity.
This impulsivity drives you to become eager for food no matter you are hungry or not. In order to further verify that impulsivity has nothing to do with hunger and food motivation, the researchers designed two mice tasks.
In the first task, a rat could press a lever and get food every 20 seconds. But in fact, the rat became eager and press the lever before the time. In this case, the rat had to wait again for 20 seconds.
In the second task, a rat could choose to get food immediately or choose to get fivefold food every 30-45 seconds. It turns out that the rat tended to get immediate food instead of waiting for far more food.
These results suggest that the impulsivity can make you eager for food or drugs. You just want to take them no matter you really need them or not. Unfortunately, scientists hadn't fully understood how the brain circuit affects impulse control for now.
To conclude, unable to stop eating candy or drugs may not be your fault. You can just shove all the blame on the brain circuit and impulsivity. Let’s hope that scientists can find a way to develop better treatments for psychiatric disorders like food addiction and drug abuse in the near future. And at that time, maybe weight loss wouldn't be that difficult.