My long-term global interest has been focused upon the interactions of metabolism, metabolic hormones, and brain functions at the level of behavior and biochemistry. These interests evolve as the field evolves, but also my goal as a scientist is to anticipate and ask questions about ‘what is next’ in terms of our need-to-know and need-to-understand. I have studied the metabolic and hormonal regulation of ‘food reward’ for about 20 years. Currently, I am interested in what I call ‘nutritional neuroscience’: the direct biochemical and behavioral effects of dietary components on the brain. The Western diet is both environment, and behavioral choice, and as such represents a powerful place of intervention for the improvement of human health. Understanding all aspects of the diet environment that we live in is an important goal and requires multi-disciplinary approaches to achieve.
My lab has a long-standing interest in the behavioral and neural-circuit effects of metabolic states and metabolic hormones at the CNS, with focus on ingestive behavior, neural regulation of metabolism and obesity. Historically, we spent about 15 years studying the effects of the hormones insulin and leptin on various facets of food reward. Currently, we are shifting the focus a little bit to the effects of specific dietary fatty acids on not just food reward, but on potential mechanisms for regulation of gene expression and epigenetic phenomena. Thus, we are using our sucrose reward model to initially establish these effects using a behavior and circuitry very familiar to us, but hope to branch out to other systems (e.g., hippocampus/learning; limbic circuitry such as amygdala and BNST/anxiety, fear, stress).
Diabetes 61(12): 3056-62
Seaquist ER, Lattemann DF, Dixon RA
Appetite 51(3): 452-5
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