Defective Brain Signaling Linked With Overeating of High-Fat Foods

A Vanderbilt University psychiatry professor, Aurelio Galli, PhD, serves as co-director of a neuroscience program in substance abuse. Dr. Aurelio Galli’s research includes work on the link between a high-fat diet and overeating, with defective brain signaling tied to increased levels of obesity.

Related to central nervous system defects, obesity is a state where the body’s energy output fails to match food energy intake. Recent research focuses on the brain cell signaling pathway that serves to regulate overconsumption of foods that are high in fat. The neurobiological mechanisms behind such overconsumption have been linked to specific types of signaling pathway disruptions.

Dr. Galli characterized the study he coauthored as helping to explain the reasons why animals of all types are susceptible to overconsumption of high-fat foods, despite a physical sense of fullness. Defects in insulin signaling override homeostatic mechanisms built into the body, and replace them with reward mechanisms tied to obesity. In layman’s terms, the system is “hijacked by the very foods that it is designed to control.”

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