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Why Produce Nosotros Eat? A Neurobiological Perspective. Business Office Vii

Welcome dorsum to the series, afterward a fleck of a hiatus!  In previous posts, nosotros covered the fact that humans eat because we're motivated to eat, in addition to many things tin motivate us to eat.  These include factors related to liberate energy postulate (homeostatic factors), such equally hunger, in addition to factors that own got piffling to produce alongside liberate energy postulate or hunger (non-homeostatic factors).  These many factors are all processed inward specialized encephalon 'modules' that ultimately converge on a cardinal activity alternative organisation (part of the vantage system); this is the component of y'all that decides whether or non to initiate eating behaviors.

This volition live somewhat of a catch-all post service inward which I hash out cognitive, emotional, in addition to habit influences on nutrient intake.  Since these factors are non my specialty, I'll locomote yesteryear along it brief, but I don't hateful to advise they aren't important.

Food 'Cost'

One of the primary factors inward deciding when in addition to what to eat is determining how much y'all own got to surrender to obtain the nutrient inward question.  We tin telephone phone this the 'cost' of food, but inward this context a food's 'cost' refers to endeavor terms inward add-on to monetary cost.  If y'all similar hamburgers, in addition to there's a hamburger on your desk, y'all may eat it fifty-fifty when y'all aren't hungry in addition to your full general motivation to eat is relatively low.  If the same hamburger is across the street, you'll postulate to live at to the lowest degree a piffling fleck hungry (or motivated yesteryear something else, for event boredom or a bang-up dear of hamburgers) to own got plenty motivation to teach it.  If y'all had to walk iii miles in addition to climb a tree to teach your hamburger, you'd own got to live quite hungry!  But this was just the province of affairs for our non-industrial ancestors-- nutrient was non at arm's achieve at all times of day.  The 'cost' of nutrient was higher because it took endeavor to obtain in addition to prepare, in addition to thence it required a higher bird of motivation (hunger) to drive nutrient seeking behavior.

The endeavor terms of nutrient is a major determinant of nutrient intake.  Even pocket-sized increases inward endeavor terms tin own got a meaning impact on nutrient in addition to imbibe intake (1, 2).  For example, placing a snack bowl 140 cm (4'7") away from a someone leads to less snack intake than placing the same bowl twenty cm (8") away (3).  Getting upward only requires a fleck to a greater extent than motivation than reaching out your arm.  Having nutrient inward your immediate vicinity, in addition to specially inside arm's reach, is by in addition to large a bad persuasion if you're concerned nearly your weight.  The monetary terms of nutrient also influences intake in addition to selection.

This concept is the domain of a enquiry dependent area called 'behavioral economics'.  It's non my field, but I produce discovery it interesting.  I'll explore this a fleck farther inward the side yesteryear side post service inward the series.

Cognitive Restraint in addition to Goals

Our behaviour is strongly influenced yesteryear unconscious factors, but clearly nosotros own got about bird of witting command over when in addition to what nosotros eat.  Our 'higher' cognitive functions, many of which are seated primarily inward the cerebral cortex, serve to guide our behaviour inward a mode that supports our long-term goals.  Your vantage organisation may wish y'all to eat a donut, but your cortex tin inhibit that behaviour because y'all know eating the donut is inconsistent alongside your long-term destination of wellness in addition to leanness.  The technical term for this is 'cognitive restraint', the common-sense term for it is willpower, in addition to it is perceived equally a conflict betwixt unconsciously driven desires in addition to witting goals.

Negative Emotions

Emotions such equally stress in addition to sadness tin drive nutrient intake inward susceptible people, in addition to they may produce in addition to then at to the lowest degree inward component yesteryear increasing reward-seeking behaviour inward an endeavor to fight negative emotions.  The American Psychological Association reported inward 2007 that 43 pct of Americans overeat when stressed, piece 36 pct skip a repast (4).  Clearly the response to stress is highly individual.  However, amidst those who overeat, the foods consumed tend to live calorie-dense in addition to highly palatable, such equally candy, chocolate, H2O ice cream, white patato chips, cookies, cake, fast food, pizza, etc.

Social Environment

Who y'all eat alongside has a large impact on nutrient intake.  For example, a someone eating alongside vi or to a greater extent than other people volition eat on average nearly twice equally many calories equally a someone eating yesteryear herself (5).  Eating is component of socializing, in addition to the alcohol consumed inward such social situations also disinhibits eating behavior.  People oftentimes wrongly believe they are unaffected yesteryear these factors.


To start to illustrate the importance of habit inward nutrient intake behaviors, all nosotros postulate is a common-sense example: how many times own got y'all eaten tiffin non because you're hungry, but only because it's lunchtime?      The ability of fourth dimension cues is evident inward a really interesting experiment that was conducted inward amnesic patients inward 1998 (7).

The influence of habits on our lives runs deep.  The large bulk of our behaviors, including nutrient selection, are driven yesteryear habit.  Therefore, habits to a large extent determine our weight in addition to wellness over time.

The Complete Model

We've live on arrived at the consummate version of my simplified model of nutrient intake behavior.  Each colored cast represents a functional in addition to (sort of) anatomical encephalon module, piece the words that environment them correspond the external in addition to internal factors they response to.  One affair I wish to Federal Reserve notation hither is that the right-most module, "Cognition in addition to Emotions", is a catch-all category that represents a multifariousness of processes that are regulated yesteryear a pose out of dissimilar encephalon areas.
As y'all tin see, fifty-fifty my highly simplified model is quite complex-- this reflects the complexity of human biological scientific discipline in addition to culture.



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