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Our Brain Can Be Rewired To Curb Sugar Cravings

Have you ever been on a diet and wished that spinach and not sugar excited your tastebuds? Or that chocolate left you cold? Neuroscientists have discovered how to manipulate the brain to make sweet things repulsive, and bitter ones nice. But only in mice, for now.

Mooting promise for an obesity treatment, researchers in the US have learnt to “switch” parts of the brain’s amygdala, the centre for emotion and emotional behaviour, on and off, turning sweetness into an aversive taste for lab mice, and bitterness into a desirable one.

“The research points to new strategies for understanding and treating eating disorders including obesity and anorexia nervosa,” said a statement from the Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute, whose researchers took part in the study, which was published in the scientific journal Nature, the researchers focused on the amygdala.

The team used laser light stimulation to artificially “switch on” neuron connections to sweet or bitter regions of the amygdala.

Their findings suggested the brain’s complex taste system was made of discrete units “that can be individually isolated, modified or removed.”
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