1932

Abstract

The conscious perception of the hedonic sensory properties of caloric foods is commonly believed to guide our dietary choices. Current and traditional models implicate the consciously perceived hedonic qualities of food as driving overeating, whereas subliminal signals arising from the gut would curb our uncontrolled desire for calories. Here we review recent animal and human studies that support a markedly different model for food reward. These findings reveal in particular the existence of subcortical body-to-brain neural pathways linking gastrointestinal nutrient sensors to the brain's reward regions. Unexpectedly, consciously perceptible hedonic qualities appear to play a less relevant, and mostly transient, role in food reinforcement. In this model, gut-brain reward pathways bypass cranial taste and aroma sensory receptors and the cortical networks that give rise to flavor perception. They instead reinforce behaviors independently of the cognitive processes that support overt insights into the nature of our dietary decisions.

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2020-01-04
2024-07-15
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