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J Neurosci. 2002 Oct 1;22(19):8748-53.

Amygdalo-hypothalamic circuit allows learned cues to override satiety and promote eating.

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Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA.


Organisms eat not only in a response to signals related to energy balance. Eating also occurs in response to "extrinsic," or environmental, signals, including learned cues. Such cues can modify feeding based on motivational value acquired through association with either rewarding or aversive events. We provide evidence that a specific brain system, involving connections between basolateral amygdala and the lateral hypothalamus, is crucial for allowing learned cues (signals that were paired with food delivery when the animal was hungry) to override satiety and promote eating in sated rats. In an assessment of second-order conditioning, we also found that disconnection of this circuitry had no effect on the ability of a conditioned cue to support new learning. Knowledge about neural systems through which food-associated cues specifically control feeding behavior provides a defined model for the study of learning that may be informative for understanding mechanisms that contribute to eating disorders and more moderate forms of overeating.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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