Texas Christian University (TCU) is coming under fire after discovering that its star player has been dabbling in marijuana as some accuse the University of turning a blind eye. Quarterback Casey Pachall, who set a new school record last year for passing the ball 2,921 yards, issued a regretful statement to the media taking responsibility for his actions in an incident that occurred earlier in the year.
Some patterns of behavior, such as overeating, smoking, and drug addiction are very difficult to overcome. While success is often possible through strategies like cognitive behavioral therapy, some individuals require multiple treatment types. Many studies have shown that some of these behaviors are related and are controlled in one area of the brain.
A new study from the Yale School of Medicine provides new information about the neurons responsible for controlling hunger. The study shows that the neurons are also linked with disordered behaviors beyond just overeating. They are also responsible for behaviors like drug addiction and novelty seeking.
The study, published online in a recent edition of Nature Neuroscience, was led by Marcelo O. Dietrich, a postdoctoral associate, and Tamas L. Horvath, who is the dean and David W. Wallace, Professor of Biomedical Research and chair of comparative medicine at the Yale School of Medicine.
The researchers were building on information gathered by previous studies, showing that in patients with obesity and diabetes, food may become an addictive substance due to the way that the brain’s reward circuits function. However, the study authors report that their findings were instead contradictory to earlier studies on the subject.
The researchers found that among patients with an increased appetite for food, there is actually a decreased tendency toward novelty and a decreased risk of using cocaine. The reverse is true as well, with less interest in food predicting an increased interest in cocaine.
Horvath and colleagues examined two groups of transgenic mice. The researchers eliminated a signaling molecule in the first group of mice that is responsible for controlling hunger in neurons located in the hypothalamus. In the other group, the researchers manipulated the same neurons using a selective elimination by introducing diphtheria toxin.
The researchers then administered non-invasive tests to determine how the mice responded to anxiety, novelty and the introduction of cocaine.
The tests revealed that the mice that were less interested in food were more interested in drugs like cocaine and novelty-seeking opportunities. The implication is that there may be patients who have an increased level of activity in the reward circuitry but are not overeaters. The researchers explain that this trait is complex and stems from the development of basic feeding circuits. This then affects the adult responses to novelty and drug cravings.
Horvath and colleagues posit that the hypothalamus is responsible for higher brain functions, as well as impacting such functions as body temperature and hunger.
The findings are different than those previously determining a connection between overeating and drug addiction. The researchers believe that there may be a group of people who are not prone to overeat but may be at an increased risk for drug addiction.
The findings of the study provide new information about the connections and screening information that may be useful for detecting both overeating and drug addiction patients in need of treatment.