In: Trends in Neurosciences
Abstract: Animals use current, past, and projected future states of the organism and the world in a finely tuned system to control ingestion. They must not only deal effectively with current nutrient deficiencies, but also manage energy resources to meet future needs, all within the constraints of the mechanisms of metabolism. Many recent approaches to understanding the control of ingestive behavior distinguish between homeostatic mechanisms concerned with energy balance, and hedonic and incentive processes based on palatability and reward characteristics of food. In this review, I consider how learning about environmental cues influences homeostatic and hedonic brain signals, which may lead to increases in the affective taste properties of food and desire to over consume. Understanding these mechanisms may be critical for elucidating the etiology of the obesity epidemic.