Hungry? Scientists Can Flip On/Off The Hunger Portion Of Our Brain
Scientists studying lab mice have figured out how to control the part of our brain that controls hunger. Using blue lasers, the group of researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of Edinburgh controlled the particular brain cells that control hunger with the help from optical fibers attached to the brain.
When one group of mice went to sleep on full stomachs their melanocortin 4 receptor-regulated (MC4R) brain cells were turned off. According to the scientists, the mice immediately because “ravenous.”
When the mice had those same neurons on, the opposite effect was observed.Turning these neurons on had the opposite effect. The research found that when the MC4R cells activated the mice exhibited hardly any desire to eat.
During a second experiment researchers found hungry mice were attracted to the light that turned off their MC4R cells.
The research suggests that deactivating the MC4R cells calms the side effects of hungry, leading to less irritability and other positive effects.
Researcher Bradford Lowell explains:
Turning on the PVH MC4R neurons 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.
While the MC4R cells can be controlled, researchers note that creating a drug that targets a specific portion of the brain is not a simple task. It doesn’t help matters that the MC4R cells are a small group of neurons surrounded by billions of other brain cells.