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Curr Opin Insect Sci. 2017 Oct;23:96-103. doi: 10.1016/j.cois.2017.07.013. Epub 2017 Aug 4.

Craving for the future: the brain as a nutritional prediction system.

Author information

1
Behavior and Metabolism Laboratory, Champalimaud Research, Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Lisbon 1400-038, Portugal.
2
Behavior and Metabolism Laboratory, Champalimaud Research, Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Lisbon 1400-038, Portugal. Electronic address: Carlos.Ribeiro@neuro.fchampalimaud.org.

Abstract

In the last decades, predictive coding has emerged as an important framework for understanding how the brain processes information. It states that the brain is constantly inferring and predicting sensory data from statistical regularities in its environment. While this framework has been largely applied to sensory processing and motor control, we argue here that it could also serve as framework for a better understanding of how animals regulate nutrient homeostasis. Mechanisms that underlie nutrient homeostasis are commonly described in terms of negative feedback control, which compares current states with a reference point, called setpoint, and counteracts any mismatches. Using concepts from control theory, we explain shortcomings of negative feedback as a purely reactive controller, and how feed-forward mechanisms could be incorporated into feedback control to improve the performance of the control system. We then provide numerous examples to show that many insects, as well as mammals, make use of feed-forward, anticipatory mechanisms that go beyond the prevailing view of homeostasis being achieved through reactive negative feedback. The emerging picture is that the brain incorporates predictive signals as well as negative feedback to regulate nutrient homeostasis.

PMID:
29129289
DOI:
10.1016/j.cois.2017.07.013

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