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Transcript of Science Ponderable
Also Known As-
What makes us eat???
Science Ponderable of the Day
Gaba neurons are cells within the brain that control eating. They are located in the bed nucleus of the stia terminalis, or BNST. The team tested the effects of these cells on lab mice.
Sixty years ago, a team of scientists located the lateral hypothalamus, a region of the brain they know contained many different types of brain cells. During this experiment, Stuber and Jennings wanted to focus on one type of cell- the gaba neurons in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSNT). They studied the effects of these cells on the body.
Joshua Jennings and Garret Stuber, with their team of scientists
September 26th, 2013
University of North Carolina
The Experiment- Part 1
First, the team genetically modified mice by injecting them with a virus that carried algae proteins. This algae is sensitive to light, so the proteins enabled the team to activate the gaba neurons by shining a laser onto them. They inserted fiber optic cables into the mice's brains, so the lasers could reach the gaba neurons.
The Experiment- Part 2
When the scientists turned on the laser, activating the neurons, the mice instantly began to eat. They ate non- stop no matter how full they were, and preferred fatty foods. Activating the gaba neurons also seemed Stuber commented that they ate nearly half their daily calorie intake in 20 minutes. This suggests that the BSNT pathway has control over binge eating (eating large amounts of food in a short time).
The Experiment- Part 3
When the scientists turned off the laser, the mice lost all interest in the food and stopped eating. Even if the mice were starving, they would not eat if the gaba neurons were deactivated. This leads the team to believe that faulty gaba neurons were the cause of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and obesity. The team said that if they know how normal gaba neurons work, they can understand what causes some to malfunction and cause eating disorders.