A study has found that the natural brain chemical enkephalin surged as rats ate chocolate.
The study used rats to investigate the effect of the brain chemical enkephalin on the urge to consume, using specifically M and M chocolates. Enkephalin is part of the brain chemical endorphins a natural mild form of opium, an active ingredient in heroin.
They also found that injecting a synthetic opiate, similar to enkephalin, into the dorsal neostriatum area of the brain triggered a feeding frenzy in the rats. An effect that study leader Dr ALexandra DiFeliceantonio says is similar to that of drug addicts and those who are obese.
‘The same brain area tested here is active when obese people see foods and when drug addicts see drug scenes. It seems likely that our enkephalin findings in rats mean that this neurotransmitter may drive some forms of overconsumption and addiction in people,’ says Dr Alexandra DiFeliceantonio.
The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Michigan and was funded by grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal: Current Biology.
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