As per new research, meals can trigger reward signals in the brain. And if that wasn't rewarding enough, apparently they can do so twice, once when the food is ingested and once when it reaches the stomach. This study highlights how closely the interactions between the brain and the digestive system can work together to reinforce food habits. And this might even provide insight into why people often overeat the food that they crave the most.
“With the help of a new positron emission tomography (PET) technique we developed, we were not only able to find the two peaks of dopamine release, but we could also identify the specific brain regions that were associated with these releases. While the first release occurred in brain regions associated with reward and sensory perception, the post-ingestive release involved additional regions related to higher cognitive functions,” said senior study author Marc Tittgemeyer.
“On one hand, dopamine release mirrors our subjective desire to consume a food item. On the other hand, our desire seems to suppress gut-induced dopamine release,” said study co-author Heiko Backes. According to them, we continue to eat until sufficient dopamine has been released by our brains. Well, this probably proves why we can't stop eating the food we love.