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Brain Res. 1993 Apr 2;607(1-2):141-8.

Chronic food restriction and weight loss produce opioid facilitation of perifornical hypothalamic self-stimulation.

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Millhauser Laboratories, Department of Psychiatry New York University Medical Center, NY 10016.


Electrical stimulation frequency thresholds for lateral hypothalamic (LH) self-stimulation were monitored throughout a 3 week period of food restriction and a subsequent 3 week period of re-feeding. Rats with electrodes placed in the perifornical LH were sensitive to this dietary manipulation as evidenced by a high positive correlation between body weight and self-stimulation threshold. Rats with electrodes in the zona incerta/subincertal region or ventral hypothalamus displayed little or no change in threshold. Lateral ventricular injection of naltrexone (200.0 nM) reversed the decline in threshold that was otherwise present during food restriction in rats with perifornical placements. Naltrexone had no effect on thresholds of rats with placements outside the perifornical region. These findings suggest that food restriction and weight loss activate an opioid mechanism that facilitates perifornical LH self-stimulation. The documented association of perifornical LH with the phenomenon of stimulation-induced feeding, and the reciprocal connections between this region and gustatory structures, supports the hypothesis that facilitation of self-stimulation by food restriction is related to the natural phenomenon of positive alliesthesia (i.e. the hunger-dependency of food reward).

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