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Scientists have identified the brain cells that create the sensation of hunger.

Stashed in: #health, Science!, Medicine, Harvard, Health Studies, Neuroscience, Fun Tidbits

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Resarchers from Harvard Medical School and Edinburgh University found that a brain circuit known as melanoncortin 4 receptor-regulated (MC4R) is the set of cells which controls the desire to eat. 

By switching off the cells in a group of mice, the scientists increased hunger, while switching them on stopped the hunger pangs. 

"Our results show that the artificial activation of this particular brain circuit is pleasurable and can reduce feeding in mice, essentially resulting in the same outcome as dieting but without the chronic feeling of hunger," explained the study's co-senior author Bradford Low, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an investigator at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for Nutrition and Metabolism. 

The scientists managed to activate and switch off the brain cells by exposing the mice to blue laser light, via an optical fibre that was implanted in the animals' brains. 

The paper was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. 

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