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Why Our Brains Are Programmed to Eat Doughnuts

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Why Our Brains Are Programmed to Eat Doughnuts

Researchers have found that sight of donuts (and other foods) activate certain parts of the brain that it hard to resist.

Scientists have discovered that the reason we find it difficult to resist sugary snacks such as donuts, is largely due to our primal instincts to survive.

fmri scan Why Our Brains Are Programmed to Eat Doughnuts

The study found that our brains are programmed to leap into action when presented with the sugary treats.

krispy kreme doughnuts Why Our Brains Are Programmed to Eat DoughnutsResults proved that when hungry volunteers were shown a picture of a Krispy Kreme doughnut or a screwdriver, the sugary snack sent the brain into overdrive. This response was not the same once the participants had eaten up to eight donuts.

Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago were able to measure the brain activity with the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans, to determine the reaction from the two photos

After an eating binge, neither image generated much of a reaction. But after volunteers had fasted for eight hours, two distinct parts of the brain “lit up” at the sight of the doughnuts

One part of the brain that showed a dramatic reaction was the limbic brain. This part of the brain is found in all animals from frogs to humans. Dr Marsel Mesulam, senior author of the research published on line in the journal Cerebral Cortex said,

“That part of the brain is able to detect what is motivationally significant”¦”¦

“It says, not only am I hungry, but here is food.”

homer simpson doughnut Why Our Brains Are Programmed to Eat DoughnutsAnother part of which also became active was the brain’s spatial attention network, telling us that the donuts were more important than the screwdrivers.

Dr Aprajita Mohanty, another of the scientists, said: “There’s a very complex system in the brain that helps to direct our attention to items in the environment that are relevant to our needs, for example, food when we are hungry but not when we are full.”

The research demonstrated how the brain sifts out all sorts of relevant material, not just doughnuts, from a world full of stimuli.

“If you are in a forest and you hear rustling, the context urges you to pay full attention since this could be a sign of danger,” said Dr Mesulam.

“If you are in your office, the context makes the identical sound less relevant. A major job of the brain is to match response to context.”

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