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The drive to eat: comparisons and distinctions between mechanisms of food reward and drug addiction

Abstract

The growing rates of obesity have prompted comparisons between the uncontrolled intake of food and drugs; however, an evaluation of the equivalence of food- and drug-related behaviors requires a thorough understanding of the underlying neural circuits driving each behavior. Although it has been attractive to borrow neurobiological concepts from addiction to explore compulsive food seeking, a more integrated model is needed to understand how food and drugs differ in their ability to drive behavior. In this Review, we will examine the commonalities and differences in the systems-level and behavioral responses to food and to drugs of abuse, with the goal of identifying areas of research that would address gaps in our understanding and ultimately identify new treatments for obesity or drug addiction.

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Figure 1: Areas of the brain mediating food intake and drug seeking.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by US National Institutes of Health grants DK076964 (R.J.D.), DA011017 (J.R.T.), DA015222 (J.R.T.), DA15425 (M.R.P.) and DA014241 (M.R.P.).

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DiLeone, R., Taylor, J. & Picciotto, M. The drive to eat: comparisons and distinctions between mechanisms of food reward and drug addiction. Nat Neurosci 15, 1330–1335 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3202

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