When relatively sated, people (and rodents) are still easily tempted to consume calorie-dense foods, particularly those containing fat and sugar. Consumption of such foods while calorically replete likely contributes to obesity. The nucleus accumbens (NAc) opioid system has long been viewed as a critical substrate for this behavior, mainly via contributions to the neural control of consumption and palatability. Here, we test the hypothesis that endogenous NAc opioids also promote appetitive approach to calorie-dense food in states of relatively high satiety. We simultaneously recorded NAc neuronal firing and infused a m-opioid receptor antagonist into the NAc while rats performed a cued approach task in which appetitive and consummatory phases were well separated. The results reveal elements of a neural mechanism by which NAc opioids promote approach to high-fat food despite the lack of caloric need, demonstrating a potential means by which the brain is biased towards overconsumption of palatable food.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)