Neural Mechanisms in Controlling Eating

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Outline and Evaluate the Role of Neural Mechanisms of Controlling Eating Neural Mechanisms are structures that regulate behaviour and voluntary and involuntary bodily functions. The main area of the brain involved in the regulation of appetite is the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a gland in the brain responsible for homeostasis. The Ventromedial Nucleus (VMN) and the Lateral Nucleus (LN) are the parts of the hypothalamus that are thought to be involved in food regulation. According to the Set Point Theory, we have a biologically determined standard around which our body weight is regulated. Hence we eat too little or too much. In response to this, homeostatic mechanisms alter our metabolism and appetite accordingly, to return us close to our original weight. According to Passer et al (2009), persistent over or under eating may make it increasingly more difficult for homeostatic mechanisms to return us close to our original weight and over time may cause us to settle at a new weight. The Ventromedial Nucleus is the Satiety Centre. Satiety is the unconscious physiological process that stops you eating. The VMN provides the signal to stop eating when it picks up hormonal messages. For example, when food is being digested the level of the hormone CCK in the bloodstream is high. This stimulates receptors in the VMN. Experimental electrical stimulation of the VMN has shown to reduce food intake. Baylis et al (1996) demonstrated that malfunctions in the VMN may cause obesity. The study consisted of two symmetrical lesions which were made in VMN of eight male and five female rats. Their body weight was later compared with age-matched controls. They found that the rats lesions in their VMN had become obese, while the control rats had not. They concluded that lesions in the VMN cause hyperphagia and obesity, so the VMN must play a role in satiation. This study had

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