How Your Brain Works Your Appetite
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a part of your brain that put up a stop sign when you had eaten just the right amount of food? Well, maybe there is.
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered a new kind of nerve cell that appears to tell mice when it’s time to put away the knife and fork, so to speak. The group looked at how proteins increase the strength or weakness of the synapses that link brain cells. Synapse strength affects learning and memory, especially in the hippocampus and cortex of the brain.
The focus was on the role of the enzyme OGT, which among other functions, is involved in the processing of insulin and sugar.
In this study of adult mice, the researchers removed the gene that codes for OGT. Within 3 weeks of eliminating the gene from the primary nerve cells of the hippocampus and cortex, the mice experienced an increase in fat that doubled their weight.
Feeding pattern studies revealed that mice without OGT ate an average of 18 meals a day, the same as mice with OGT, but those without OGT spent longer eating their food and consumed more calories at each meal.
The weight gain halted when food intake was restricted to that of a normal lab diet.
The researchers conclude that removing OGT from the mice also removed their ability to sense when they were full. They believe there is evidence that glucose and OGT work together to regulate portion size. The hope is that one day we may be able to curb our own appetites in a similar way.