TOPIC Sleep Stress & Obesity
Published 10/03/07 Science Daily
Published 11/01/08 SLEEP
Published 07/27/09 Journal of Health Affairs
By Deborah Burnett ASID CMG
a quick look into how the brain
reacts to the sight of food
Recent information has surfaced about the relationship between the mere sight of food and how this actually triggers the release of a key hormone which then makes it impossible for us to ignore the urge to eat. Dopamine, the hormone responsible for impulse control, satisfaction and pleasure, sets in motion all of the brain and bodily reactions normally associated with the anticipation of eating a good meal. When this cascade of brain events happens it makes it virtually impossible for us to stop thinking of food and thus increases the desire to eat. It’s as if the mere sight of the food tricks the brain into thinking it’s time to eat. With that said, it’s no wonder some us don’t stand a chance when it comes to the war between will power and the brain.
The research conducted at the Brookhaven National Laboratory and headed by psychiatrist Nora Volkow and first reported by journalist Lauren Gravitz, involved a group of subjects who were asked to fast for up to 20 hours and then presented with foods that they loved. The hard part of the experiment was asking the participants to only to look and smell the food in front of them, but not taste. Volkow then used PET scans to measure the activity within the subject’s brains and surprisingly discovered that the highest dopamine concentration was in the brain region normally associated with the compulsion to eat. Referring to our early human ancestors and their lack of readily available food she says “It's natural that our brains would create a mechanism to eat food when it was in front of us because it might not always be available," Volkow says. But here in the 21st century where food is available at all hours of the day and times of year, starvation is less of an issue than overeating. "The brain has not evolved as quickly as civilization, which has resulted in a maladapted response. You eat when you are not supposed to be eating," she says.
Huuummmmm no wonder fast food chains have mouth watering photographs of their calorie laden food hanging on the walls!
Deborah Burnett © copyright 2009
Deborah Burnett, ASID CMG
Design Service Inc
Deborah Burnett is a nationally recognized health and wellness design authority and keynote presenter bridging the gap between science and evidence based epigenetic design which explores how the body and brain are affected by the interior environment. As a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine she specializes in research and design pertaining to how color, light, sound and daylight affect sleep.
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