Exploring The Role Of Dopamine Circuits In Eating Behavior

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Furman, Kara Elizabeth
Dopamine; Fiber Photometry; Obesity; Reward; Medicine and Health Sciences
thesis / dissertation description
In its simplest terms, obesity is a disease of exaggerated food intake. While current treatment of obesity focuses on changing behavior, few successful models of behavior modification have been developed. Even those treatments that are successful in the short-term, have failed to demonstrate lasting effect. The problem of over-eating, then, needs to be studied in terms of basic motivational programs that are encoded by the brain’s reward system. Understanding the way in which reward system activity directs eating behavior will allow more sophisticated and efficacious treatment options in the future. Several studies have focused on the nucleus accumbens (NAc) as an important regulator of motivation and reward seeking. There are two primary populations of neurons in the NAc at work in modulating motivation and reward-related effort. Several studies have given insight into what each of these may be doing to direct food intake. The present study expands on this body of knowledge using a novel technique to accomplish cell-type-specific assessment of neural activity during feeding behavior.