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Physiol Behav. 2005 Dec 15;86(5):731-46. Epub 2005 Nov 2.

Memory inhibition and energy regulation.

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Ingestive Behavior Research Center, Purdue University, United States; Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, United States.


At a simple behavioral level, food intake and body weight regulation depend on one's ability to balance the tendency to seek out and consume food with the ability to suppress or inhibit those responses. Accordingly, any factor that augments the tendency to engage in food seeking and eating or that interferes with the suppression of these behaviors could produce (a) caloric intake in excess of caloric need; (b) increases in body weight leading to obesity. This paper starts with the idea that excess body weight and obesity stem from a failure or degradation of mechanisms that normally function to inhibit eating behavior. Unlike previous approaches, we focus not on failures of traditional physiological (e.g., neural, hormonal) regulatory control mechanisms, but on disruptions of inhibitory learning and memory processes that may help to regulate energy intake. This view of energy dysregulation as a type of "learning disorder" leads us to the hippocampus, a brain structure that has long been regarded as an important substrate for learning and memory and which we think may be critically involved with a specific type of memory inhibition function that could contribute to the suppression of food intake. With this focus, the search for environmental origins of the current obesity epidemic in Western populations is directed toward factors that alter hippocampal functioning. We conclude by offering a preliminary account of how consumption of foods high in saturated fats might lead to impaired hippocampal function, reduced ability to inhibit caloric intake and, ultimately, to increased body weight.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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