Dr Saal Seneviratne Expert Witness in Psychiatry

Hunger Neurons cause compulsive behaviour

Hypothalamic Agrp Neurons Drive Stereotypic Behaviors beyond Feeding

Cell published this article in March 2023.

The nervous system in our bodies has developed to help us do different things based on our goals. It does this by bringing together information from inside our bodies (like how hungry or full we feel) and information from our senses (like what we see, hear, and touch). There are special cells in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus called Agrp neurons that are really important for controlling how we eat. But now we’ve found out that these neurons also control other complex behaviors in adult mice.

When these Agrp neurons are active even when there’s no food around, it makes the mice start searching for food and doing the same actions over and over again. But when they finally eat something, these behaviors stop. It’s interesting because these actions that the Agrp neurons make the mice do also help them feel less anxious.

We also discovered that a special system in the body called the NPY5 receptor is needed to make the repetitive behaviors happen after the Agrp neurons are active, but it doesn’t have much effect on making the mice eat. So, the Agrp neurons are important for controlling repetitive behaviors, at least partly, by using something called neuropeptides.

These findings help us understand more about the different things our bodies do to keep our energy balanced, and they also give us some ideas for possible treatments for conditions where people do the same things over and over again.

I found this article from the Yale News site