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Scientists have found that the cerebellum controls appetite

When the body lacks energystocks, we begin to feel hungry. The stronger it is, the better our appetite is. After we eat a solid meal, we experience a sense of satiety and satisfaction for a while. But how do all these sensations arise in the body and what provokes them? This involves not just one part of the brain, but a whole complex system of hormones and nerve centers. For it to work properly, the brain must receive a signal from the digestive system in time to “turn on” the feeling of hunger or satiety. If the system malfunctions for one reason or another, and it starts to work incorrectly, the person loses his appetite or, conversely, he constantly feels hunger, even after a hearty lunch. The constant feeling of hunger leads to the fact that a person quickly gains excess weight, which leads to various serious health problems. A disease in which there is practically no feeling of satiety is called Prader-Willi syndrome. The problem arises at the genetic level and is inherited. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania managed to find out which part of the brain causes hunger in Prader-Willi syndrome.

Scientists have found that the cerebellum is responsible for the feeling of satiety and hunger

How the brain limits food intake and makes you feel full

The Prader-Willi syndrome has many manifestations.The most characteristic of them, as mentioned above, is the tendency to overeat. To find out which part of the brain causes a constant feeling of hunger, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania studied its activity in a magnetic resonance imaging machine. The study involved two groups of volunteers. The first group had Prader-Willi syndrome, and the second - absolutely healthy people with moderate appetite.

People were shown pictures during the experiment.with food. As it turned out, the main difference in the work of the brain between people of the first and second groups was the activity of neurons at the base of the cerebellum, where the deep cerebellar nuclei are located. Research has shown that in healthy people, these neurons are more active when looking at food.

Neurons at the base of the cerebellum induce satiety and thus limit food intake

They also conducted a second study in mice.They provided the identified neurons of the nuclear zone of the cerebellum with chemical tags, which made it possible to activate them with drugs. The results showed that when the tags were activated, the mice began to eat less. However, this did not change their appetite and the frequency of food intake. Rodents pounced on the food in the same way as before. The only thing that changed was that the mice stopped eating food earlier, as a result of which they ate less by 50-75%.

“In fact, it was so amazing (quickly feeding mice) that I initially thought it was some mistake,” says J. Nicholas Betley, assistant professor of biology and lead author of the study.

According to the authors of the work in an article published in the journal in Nature, the feeling of fullness was always the same, no matter how hungry the mouse was or how tasty the food was.

The brain's reward system and satiety - what is the relationship?

According to the authors of the work, neural circuits andThere are two types of nerve centers that are responsible for hunger and satiety. Some of them force us to eat because we feel hungry, as the amount of energy reserves in the body has decreased. Others force them to eat for pleasure.

The cerebellum affects both the feeling of hunger and the enjoyment of food at the same time

Desire to eat food for pleasure,based on dopamine, the so-called hormone of happiness. The hypothalamus, which controls metabolism in the body, is responsible for the desire to eat in order to get rid of the feeling of hunger, which I talked about not so long ago. As it turned out, the cerebellum acts on two types of centers at once. When the neurons responsible for satiety were activated, the production of hunger hormones (AgRP) in the hypothalamus was suppressed, while the level of dopamine in one of the centers responsible for receiving pleasure from food increased. At the same time, dopamine release from food intake decreased. That is, there was a feeling of satisfaction, while the consumption of food no longer brought pleasure.

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It is quite possible that this discovery will allowsuppress the constant feeling of hunger, and thereby treat people from overeating. However, you need to make sure that the activation of neurons will not affect other systems, for example, suppress the motivation to learn. The fact is that the dopamine reward system is involved in different processes. Obviously, there is still a lot of research to be done by scientists. Finally, let me remind you that the feeling of satiety and hunger affects not only food intake, but also decision-making, which we talked about earlier.