Hunger, mostly initiated by a deficiency in energy, induces food seeking and intake. However, the drive toward food is not only regulated by physiological needs, but is motivated by the pleasure derived from ingestion of food, in particular palatable foods. Therefore, feeding is viewed as an adaptive motivated behavior that involves integrated communication between homeostatic feeding circuits and reward circuits. The initiation and termination of a feeding episode are instructed by a variety of neuronal signals, and maladaptive plasticity in almost any component of the network may lead to the development of pathological eating disorders. In this review we will summarize the latest understanding of how the feeding circuits and reward circuits in the brain interact. We will emphasize communication between the hypothalamus and the mesolimbic dopamine system and highlight complexities, discrepancies, open questions and future directions for the field.
High on food: the interaction between the neural circuits for feeding and for reward
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