PSYA3 Neurological Mechanisms in Eating

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  • Created by: John
  • Created on: 04-05-13 17:06


There is a complex web of Neurological Mechanisms that play a role in controlling eating and hunger.

One of these mechanisms involves the HYPOTHALAMUS...


  • Hypothalamus has TWO PARTS that work in opposition to each other.
  • This is called the DUAL PROCESS MODEL.
  • The VENTROMEDIAL HYPOTHALAMUS (VMH) is called the 'satiety centre' and stops eating when we are full by monitoring stomach content levels and contractions through the vegus nerve.
  • The LATERAL HYPOTHALAMUS (LH) is called the 'feeding centre' and makes us eat when blood sugar levels drop.
  • The HYPOTHALAMUS works to maintain homeostasis in the body, so if a person has too many nutrients VMH is activated, and if too few nutrients LH is activated.


However the LH can be linked to two further parts of the Hypothalamus...


The ARC consists of Hunger Neurones and Satiety Neurones


In Hunger Neurones...

  • GHRELIN is a hunger hormone produced in the stomach (thought to cause the contraction feelings we experience during hunger)
  • This stimulates the vegus nerve
  • Which then stimulates  hunger neurones in ARC
  • TASTE cells send neural signals to hunger neurones in ARC when tasty food is detected.


  • The Hunger Neurones in ARC send a chemical message (NPY and AgRP) to the PVN
  • This stimulates PVN to send nerve impulses to the LH
  • LH to releases Orexin which stimulates food seeking behaviour.


In Satiety Neurones...

  • CHOLECYSTOKININ (CKK) is released during distension of the intestines, and stimulates satiety neurones in ARC. (Short Term)
  • GLUCOSE levels in the blood are monitored by nerve cells, which then stimulate satiety neurones in the ARC
  • LEPTIN is released by body fat which stimulates the satiety neurones in ARC. (Long Term)


  • The Satiety Neurones in ARC release Melanocortin
  • This inhibits the action of NPY and AgRP
  • So hunger is not experienced



Another neural mechanism involves NEUROTRANSMITTERS...


  • Neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain) may be linked to the PARAVENTRICULAR NUCLEUS (PVH…


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