Columbia University Medical Center has recently done a new study about our brain on food. Michael Rosenbaum and his colleague Joy Hirsh have been figuring out that “After you’ve lost weight, you have an increase in the emotional response to food.” Rosenbaum also states that there is “a decrease in the activity of brain systems that might be more involved in restraint.”
They figured this out by doing fMRI scans on volunteers who agreed to a diet where their calories were restricted to see how their brains responded to food after they lost weight. The scans showed that the part of the brain that is linked to emotion and food would light up until a certain hormone called leptin, which when low causes an urge to find food, was injected into the volunteers. When they received more leptin, their brain response changes so that when they viewed food instead of the emotional parts of the brain lighting up, it was the areas that were associated with conscious decisions that lit up instead.
This is apparently due to evolution. Back when there wasn’t much food around, we had our brain telling us to find food and keep the fat on our bodies. Of course this isn’t the case as much anymore, as we usually can find plenty of food, but a lot of us have kept these genes that we’ve acquired through evolution.
So next time we have a hard time keeping that weight off and want to go for those cookies, at least now we know it’s not just lack of will power, but also programming due to thousands of years of lack of food!
Photo by Selma90.