You can’t lose weight just by relying on willpower!


When many people are losing weight, they may find that it is more difficult for them to control their appetite than others, and their eating disorders are more serious. You may even blame yourself for your poor willpower and create a psychological burden due to weight loss.

Recently, a new study from the University of Pennsylvania may give some people a lot of relief. The study confirms that the difficulty in losing weight may not have much to do with willpower. The researchers pointed out that to solve eating disorders and obesity, it is not just about simple self-control. Just eat healthy. Because some neural circuits in the brains of obese patients are already different from those of healthy individuals, willpower control alone is not enough to offset this effect, and they may need the help of auxiliary treatments. Relevant papers have been published in the journal Nature.

We may know that the hippocampus is a key brain area for maintaining memory function, and these memories include food-related parts. According to some mouse experiments, there are subpopulations of neurons in the hippocampus that respond specifically to food cues and are able to record and encode information about food locations. When living in the wild, animals remembering where food is produced or stored largely determines individual survival, because food is not always available when you want, and the memory function of the hippocampus is indispensable.

New research confirms that neurons in the hippocampus are also regulated by the hypothalamus. Specifically, the connection between the dorsolateral hippocampus (dlHPC) and the lateral hypothalamus (LH) is critical for normal appetite. LH is mainly responsible for maintaining the state of the body. Stablize. Damage to the connection between these two brain areas will affect an individual's emotional response to meals and snacks. Individuals with high levels of impaired connectivity are more likely to develop overeating.

In the experiment, the authors first reanalyzed the data from the Human Connectome Project. They observed that when individuals saw a sweet solution, dlHPC was significantly more active and involved in processing signals from other brain areas, including visual stimulation and taste-related reward stimulation. wait.

At the same time, the study also recruited a group of epilepsy patients whose brains had electrical activity monitored, and observed their brain activity while anticipating and receiving sweets. This time, they not only saw activity in dlHPC, but also found that LH was activated almost simultaneously, indicating that there is signal communication between the two brain regions when facing food.

To further confirm the link, the researchers analyzed brain tissue samples using melanin-concentrating hormone (MHC), a hormone produced by LH that regulates eating behavior. According to the phenomenon of tissue samples, MHC produced by LH finally appeared only in dlHPC, once again confirming the connection between the two brain areas.

According to their observations in obese individuals, whether the neural circuit between the two brain regions is normal or not is directly related to the level of body mass index (BMI). The higher the degree of circuit damage, the higher the individual's BMI will be.

In addition to the latest research, a 2019 Neuron paper also found that impaired hippocampal function can lead to individual obesity and overeating. The paper found that a small cluster of hippocampal neuron hD2R changes when mice eat. must be active, and when stimulated they suppress appetite, preventing mice from overeating.

Casey Halpern, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, points out that so far, none of the treatments for obesity or bulimia have targeted the hippocampus. In the future, the hippocampus may not only be used to predict obesity risk, but may also be a potential target for obesity treatment.