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Could Dopamine Activation Lower the Rate of Binge Eating? Research Shows Promise!

August 15th, 2016

Recent research has suggested that specific neurological circuits in the brain that are associated with dopamine production may be able to inhibit binge eating in lab mice. At the current time the cause of binge eating is not known, and the neurological basis behind this disorder is unclear. The newest research brings some much needed clarity. Researchers at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston determined that some of the neural circuits in the brain may be able to inhibit binge eating although the how and why of this inhibition is still not completely clear. Senior paper author, Baylor College of Medicine associate professor of pediatrics Dr. Yong Xu, explained that “Human literature suggests that dysfunction of the serotonin system or dopamine system in the brain may be associated with developing binge-like eating behavior. However, mechanistically, there’s no direct evidence to show how this system affects behavior.”

Binge eating is a big problem, and the dopamine system in the brain is associated with this disorder but the processes involved are not yet clear. The research study was published in the Biological Psychiatry journal, and researchers managed to identify a neural circuit which involves serotonin neurons which project to dopamine neurons and cause these receptors to become activated. In the research study the mice experienced inhibition in binge eating when this circuit was activated. Identifying the specific receptors and circuits involved is an important first step to determining the causes of binge eating and developing effective treatments. The serotonin 2C receptor plays a role in preventing binge eating, that much researchers have identified, but there are also a number of other variables involved that need to be examined as well.

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