Brain Manipulation Could Control Hunger Cues
Overeating may be something scientists can control by manipulating a certain area of the brain, according to a new study.
Research from Harvard Medical School and Edinburgh University found that targeting a brain circuit called the melanoncortin 4 receptor-regulated (MC4R) with weight loss drugs resulted in less hunger in lab mice.
The animals who had this region of their brains manipulated had a diminished desire to eat and consumed less food than other mice.
According to senior author of the research, Bradford Lowell, people typically have trouble dieting because of the unpleasant sensations that come from the experience of hunger.
"Turning on the [group of MC4R brain cells] had the same effect as dieting, but because it directly reduced hunger drive, it did not cause the gnawing feelings of discomfort that often come with dieting," Lowell explained.
While the trials showed interesting results on animals, there is no guarantee that this type of brain manipulation would work on humans.
Targeting the specific MC4R circuit, however, could be a "promising target for antiobesity drug development," the researchers wrote.
The study is published in Nature Neuroscience.