Larakin Brain

Lighting Up the Brain to Make It Behave

Pop neuroscience has an astounding assortment of people offering up observations about lighting up the brain when people see appealing food – or any other stimulus that makes their point. But connecting those dots to some real scientific insight comes a little more slowly.

A new publication in Appetite does an excellent job of tying together some of the latest insights from both neuroscience and behavioral science. In doing so, researchers from Texas Tech University provide important insight into the complex chronic disease of obesity.

The authors point to a major limitation of trying to study the neuroscience of obesity separately from behavioral science. They say:

The result is a less than complete picture of the brain’s role in the complexity of the human experience of ingestion.

Attempts are persistently made to exert behavioral control over ingestion, without fully understanding the complex bio-behavioral systems involved.

At present, two scientific disciplines – behavioral science and neuroscience – are progressing on parallel, independent tracks. Understanding how the brain works to regulate hedonic cravings for food and hunger cannot, by itself, solve the problem of obesity.

Conversely, behavioral research seeking ways to restrain eating behaviors cannot have much effect without accounting for the neurological basis of those behaviors.

The opportunity to translate science into better obesity care by combining these two bodies of knowledge is tremendous. This important work has only just started.

Click here for the analysis in Appetite.

Larakin Brain, photograph © darkday / flickr

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August 30, 2016

One Response to “Lighting Up the Brain to Make It Behave”

  1. August 30, 2016 at 3:35 pm, Allen Browne said:

    Yup! Everyone needs to get n the sandbox and play together – it will take a community to learn how to help people with obesity.