Researchers have discovered a cluster of neurons that when stimulated, trigger an immediate binge eating patterns. Repeated stimulation of these neurons made the mice gain significant weight. It’s like a reverse take on “The Biggest Loser” but in miniature.
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These neurons are located on the Zona Incerta, an area of the subthalamus that hasn’t been all that explored by scientists in the past. Research suggests that this immediate binge eating phenomena can also apply to humans. Patients that suffer from movement disorders and have their subthalamus stimulated as part of their treatment have reported binge eating patterns. These findings prompted scientists Xiaobing Zhang and Anthony N. van den Pol to conduct a whole study on mice and the different ways of stimulating their eating behavior.
The results were surprising. Mice demonstrated a immediate binge eating pattern two seconds after their Zona Incerta was stimulated. After 10 minutes of continuous stimulation, the mice rapidly consumed 35% percent of their daily meal portions, as if they were participating on a pie eating contest. Two weeks later, these poor mice had gained a significant amount weight. Let’s not picture their arteries or the state of their emotions right now.
Lastly, researchers also discovered that you can un-stimulate the appetite, if that’s even a word, via the excitation of glutamate neurons in the PVT. This study has kind of discovered an on/off switch for eating. Let’s hope that when applied to humans, the treatment will be used for health reasons and things that matter.