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Updates on the neurobiology of food reward and their relation to the obesogenic environment

Uribe-Cerda, Sofiaa; Morselli, Eugeniaa; Perez-Leighton, Claudioa,b

Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity: October 2018 - Volume 25 - Issue 5 - p 292–297
doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000427
OBESITY AND NUTRITION: Edited by Caroline M. Apovian

Purpose of review To summarize recent findings about the neurobiological control of food reward and discuss their relevance for hedonic food intake and obesity in our current obesogenic environment.

Recent findings Recent data show new roles for circuits involving neuronal subpopulations within the central amyglada (CeA) and lateral hypothalamus in the regulation of feeding and reward in rodents under free and operant conditions and also in restrain from reward consumption. Recent work also shows that the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) codes for subjective perception of food features during reward assessment of individual foods and that activity in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) codes for anticipation for reward, which can be blocked by time-locked neurostimulation of NAc.

Summary New data illustrates that different aspects of hedonic intake and food reward are coded in a distributed brain network. In particular, as our obesogenic environment facilitates access to palatable food and promotes cue-induced feeding, neuronal circuits related to control of impulsivity, food valuation and duration of hedonic intake episodes might have a significant role in our ability to control food intake and development of obesity by excess intake.

aDepartment of Physiology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago, Chile

bFood Science and Nutrition Department, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Correspondence to Claudio Perez-Leighton, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago 8331150, Chile. Tel: +56 2 2542886; e-mail: cperezl@bio.puc.cl

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