[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A recent study has found that obese women (but not men) have difficulty inhibiting food-rewarded, but not money-rewarded, appetitive behaviour, suggesting that obesity is associated with cognitive deficits that could selectively promote food intake, perhaps in a sex-dependent manner.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Evidence is accumulating which suggests that, in addition to leading to unprecedented rates of obesity, the current food environment is contributing to the development of cognitive impairment and dementia. Recent experimental research indicates that many of the cognitive deficits associated with obesity involve fundamental inhibitory processes that have important roles in the control of food intake, implicating these cognitive impairments as a risk factor for weight gain. Here, we review experiments that link obesity with deficits in memory, attentional, and behavioral control and contemplate how these deficits may predispose individuals to overeat. Specifically, we discuss how deficits in inhibitory control may reduce one's ability to resist eating when confronted with the variety of foods and food cues that are ubiquitous in today's environment. Special attention is given to the importance of memory inhibition to the control of eating and appetitive behavior, and the role of the hippocampus in this process. We also discuss the potential etiology of both obesity and obesity-related cognitive impairment, highlighting non-human animal research which links both of these effects to the consumption of the modern "Western" diet that is high in saturated fats and simple carbohydrates. We conclude that part of what makes the current food environment "obesogenic" is the increased presence of food cues and the increased consumption of a diet which compromises our ability to resist those cues. A multi-dimensional intervention which focuses on improving control over food-related cognitive processing may be useful not only for combating the obesity epidemic but also for minimizing the risk of serious cognitive disorder later in life.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This review describes how a cascade of associative relationships involving the sensory properties of foods, the nutritional consequences of their consumption and perceived internal states may play an important role in the learned control of energy intake and body weight regulation. In addition, we describe ways in which dietary factors in the current environment can promote excess energy intake and body weight gain by degrading these relationships or by interfering with the neural substrates that underlie the ability of animals to use them to predict the nutritive or energetic consequences of intake. We propose that an expanded appreciation of the diversity of orosensory, gastrointestinal, and energy state signals about which animals learn, combined with a greater understanding of predictive relationships in which these cues are embedded, will help generate new information and novel approaches to addressing the current global problems of obesity and metabolic disease.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition 01/2014; 40(3):261-279. · 2.38 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intake of a Western diet (WD), which is high in saturated fat and sugar, is associated with deficits in hippocampal-dependent learning and memory processes as well as with markers of hippocampal pathology. In the present study, rats were trained to asymptote on hippocampal-dependent serial feature negative (FN) and hippocampal-independent simple discrimination problems. Performance was then assessed following 7 days on ad libitum chow and after 10, 24, 40, 60, and 90 days of maintenance on WD, on ketogenic (KETO) diet which is high in saturated fat and low in sugar and other carbohydrates, or continued maintenance on chow (CHOW). Confirming and extending previous findings, diet-induced obese (DIO) rats fed WD showed impaired FN performance, increased BBB permeability, and increased fasting blood glucose levels compared to CHOW controls and to diet resistant (DR) rats that did not become obese when maintained on WD. For rats fed the KETO diet, FN performance and BBB integrity was more closely associated with level of circulating ketone bodies than with obesity phenotype (DR or DIO) with higher levels of ketones appearing to provide a protective effect. The evidence also indicated that FN deficits preceded and predicted increased body weight and adiposity. This research (a) further substantiates previous findings of WD-induced deficits in hippocampal-dependent feature negative discriminations, (b) suggests that ketones may be protective against diet-induced cognitive impairment, and (c) provides evidence that diet-induced cognitive impairment precedes weight gain and obesity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An enormous amount of research has been aimed at identifying biological and environmental factors that are contributing to the current global obesity pandemic. The present paper reviews recent findings which suggest that obesity is attributable, at least in part, to a disruption of the Pavlovian control of energy regulation. Within our framework, this disruption occurs when (a) consumption of sweet-tasting, but low calorie or noncaloric, foods and beverages reduces the ability of sweet tastes to predict the postingestive caloric consequences of intake and (b) consuming diets high in saturated fat and sugar (a.k.a., Western diet) impairs hippocampal-dependent learning and memory processes that are involved with the use of interoceptive "satiety" signals to anticipate when food and eating are not followed by appetitive postingestive outcomes. The paper concludes with discussion of a "vicious-cycle' model which links obesity to cognitive decline.
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 07/2013; · 3.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The use of high-intensity sweeteners has been proposed as a method to combat increasing rates of overweight and obesity in the human population. However, previous work with male rats suggests that consumption of such sweeteners might contribute to, rather than ameliorate, weight gain. The goals of the present experiments were to assess whether intake of high-intensity sweeteners is associated with increased food intake and body weight gain in female rats; to evaluate whether this effect depends on composition of the maintenance diet (i.e., standard chow compared with diets high in energy, fat, and sugar [HE diets]); and to determine whether the phenotype of the rats with regard to propensity to gain weight on HE diets affects the consequences of consuming high-intensity sweeteners. The data demonstrated that female rats fed a low-fat, standard laboratory chow diet did not gain extra weight when fed yogurt dietary supplements sweetened with saccharin compared with those fed glucose-sweetened dietary supplements. However, female rats maintained on a "Westernized" diet high in fat and sugar (HE diet) showed significant increases in energy intake, weight gain, and adiposity when given saccharin-sweetened compared with glucose-sweetened yogurt supplements. These differences were most pronounced in female rats known to be prone to obesity prior to the introduction of the yogurt diets. Both selectively bred Crl:OP[CD] rats and outbred Sprague-Dawley rats fed an HE diet showing high levels of weight gain (diet-induced obese [DIO] rats) had increased weight gain in response to consuming saccharin-sweetened compared with glucose-sweetened supplements. However, in male rats fed an HE diet, saccharin-sweetened supplements produced extra weight gain regardless of obesity phenotype. These results suggest that the most negative consequences of consuming high-intensity sweeteners may occur in those most likely to use them for weight control, females consuming a "Westernized" diet and already prone to excess weight gain. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rats that consume high-energy (HE) diets (i.e., diets high in saturated fats and sugar) show impaired hippocampal-dependent learning and memory (e.g., Kanoski and Davidson (2011) ). To further investigate this effect, we trained rats given restricted access to low-fat lab chow on hippocampal-dependent serial feature-negative (FN) and hippocampal-independent simple discrimination problems. When training was completed, Group Chow received ad libitum lab chow. The remaining rats received ad libitum HE diet. Performance on both discrimination problems was tested following 7, 14, 21 and 28 days of HE diet exposure. FN, but not simple discrimination, was abolished initially for all rats, and then re-emerged for Group Chow. For rats fed HE diet, those that weighed the least and had the lowest amount of body fat (HE-diet resistant (HE-DR) rats), performed like Group Chow on both discrimination problems. However, HE diet-induced obese (HE-DIO) rats (i.e., rats that weighed the most weight and had the most body fat) performed like Group Chow on the simple discrimination problem, but were impaired throughout testing on the FN problem. Subsequent assessment of blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability revealed that concentrations of an exogenously administered dye were elevated in the hippocampus, but not in the striatum or prefrontal cortex for HE-DIO rats relative to the HE-DR and Chow groups. The results indicate that the adverse consequences of HE diet on hippocampal-dependent cognitive functioning are associated with detrimental effects on the BBB and that both of these outcomes vary with sensitivity to HE diet-induced increases in weight and adiposity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous work from our lab has demonstrated that experience with high-intensity sweeteners in rats leads to increased food intake, body weight gain and adiposity, along with diminished caloric compensation and decreased thermic effect of food. These changes may occur as a result of interfering with learned relations between the sweet taste of food and the caloric or nutritive consequences of consuming those foods. The present experiments determined whether experience with the high-intensity sweetener saccharin versus the caloric sweetener glucose affected blood glucose homeostasis. The results demonstrated that during oral glucose tolerance tests, blood glucose levels were more elevated in animals that had previously consumed the saccharin-sweetened supplements. In contrast, during glucose tolerance tests when a glucose solution was delivered directly into the stomach, no differences in blood glucose levels between the groups were observed. Differences in oral glucose tolerance responses were not accompanied by differences in insulin release; insulin release was similar in animals previously exposed to saccharin and those previously exposed to glucose. However, release of GLP-1 in response to an oral glucose tolerance test, but not to glucose tolerance tests delivered by gavage, was significantly lower in saccharin-exposed animals compared to glucose-exposed animals. Differences in both blood glucose and GLP-1 release in saccharin animals were rapid and transient, and suggest that one mechanism by which exposure to high-intensity sweeteners that interfere with a predictive relation between sweet tastes and calories may impair energy balance is by suppressing GLP-1 release, which could alter glucose homeostasis and reduce satiety.
Behavioural brain research 04/2012; 233(1):1-14. · 3.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In a previous report (Schier et al., Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 301: R1557-R1568, 2011), we demonstrated with a new behavioral procedure that rats exhibit stimulus-bound suppression of intake in response to an intraduodenal (ID) bitter tastant predicting subsequent malaise. With the use of the same modified taste aversion procedure, the present experiments evaluated whether the sweet taste properties of ID stimuli are likewise detected and encoded. Thirsty rats licked at sipper spouts for hypotonic NaCl for 30 min and received brief (first 6 min) yoked ID infusions of either the same NaCl or an isomolar lithium chloride (LiCl) solution in each session. An intestinal taste cue was mixed directly into the LiCl infusate for aversion training. Results showed that rats failed to detect intestinal sweet taste alone (20 mM Sucralose) but clearly suppressed licking in response to a nutritive sweet taste stimulus (234 mM sucrose) in the intestine that had been repeatedly paired with LiCl. Rats trained with ID sucrose in LiCl subsequently generalized responding to ID Sucralose alone at test. Replicating this, rats trained with ID Sucralose in compound with 80 mM Polycose rapidly suppressed licking to the 20 mM Sucralose alone in a later test. Furthermore, ID sweet taste signaling did not support the rapid negative feedback of sucrose or Polycose on intake when their digestion and transport were blocked. Together, these results suggest that other signaling pathways and/or transporters engaged by caloric carbohydrate stimuli potentiate detection of sweet taste signals in the intestine.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The discovery that cells in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract express the same molecular receptors and intracellular signaling components known to be involved in taste has generated great interest in potential functions of such post-oral "taste" receptors in the control of food intake. To determine whether taste cues in the GI tract are detected and can directly influence behavior, the present study used a microbehavioral analysis of intake, in which rats drank from lickometers that were programmed to simultaneously deliver a brief yoked infusion of a taste stimulus to the intestines. Specifically, in daily 30-min sessions, thirsty rats with indwelling intraduodenal catheters were trained to drink hypotonic (0.12 M) sodium chloride (NaCl) and simultaneously self-infuse a 0.12 M NaCl solution. Once trained, in a subsequent series of intestinal taste probe trials, rats reduced licking during a 6-min infusion period, when a bitter stimulus denatonium benzoate (DB; 10 mM) was added to the NaCl vehicle for infusion, apparently conditioning a mild taste aversion. Presentation of the DB in isomolar lithium chloride (LiCl) for intestinal infusions accelerated the development of the response across trials and strengthened the temporal resolution of the early licking suppression in response to the arrival of the DB in the intestine. In an experiment to evaluate whether CCK is involved as a paracrine signal in transducing the intestinal taste of DB, the CCK-1R antagonist devazepide partially blocked the response to intestinal DB. In contrast to their ability to detect and avoid the bitter taste in the intestine, rats did not modify their licking to saccharin intraduodenal probe infusions. The intestinal taste aversion paradigm developed here provides a sensitive and effective protocol for evaluating which tastants-and concentrations of tastants-in the lumen of the gut can control ingestion.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The use of food products designed to mimic the sensory properties of sweet and fat while providing fewer calories has been promoted as a method for reducing food intake and body weight. However, such products may interfere with a learned relationship between the sensory properties of food and the caloric consequences of consuming those foods. In the present experiment, we examined whether use of the fat substitute, olestra, affect energy balance by comparing the effects of consuming high-fat, high-calorie potato chips to the effects of consuming potato chips that sometimes signaled high calories (using high-fat potato chips) and that sometimes signaled lower calories (using nonfat potato chips manufactured with the fat substitute olestra). Food intake, body weight gain and adiposity were greater for rats that consumed both the high-calorie chips and the low-calorie chips with olestra compared to rats that consumed consuming only the high-calorie chips, but only if animals were also consuming a chow diet that was high in fat and calories. However, rats previously exposed to both the high- and low-calorie chips exhibited increased body weight gain, food intake and adiposity when they were subsequently provided with a high fat, high calorie chow diet suggesting that experience with the chips containing olestra affected the ability to predict high calories based on the sensory properties of fat. These results extend the generality of previous findings that interfering with a predictive relationship between sensory properties of foods and calories may contribute to dysregulation of energy balance, overweight and obesity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examined structural-functional differences along the septo-temporal axis of hippocampus using radial-maze tasks that involved two different memory processes [reference memory (RM) and working memory (WM)], and the use of two kinds of information (spatial vs. nonspatial cue learning). In addition, retention of the nonspatial cue task was tested nine weeks following completion of acquisition, and the rats then underwent discrimination reversal training. Ibotenic acid lesions limited to either the dorsal pole, intermediate area, or ventral pole had minimal effects on acquisition of the complex place and cue discrimination tasks. The one exception was that rats with lesions confined to the dorsal third of hippocampus made more WM errors on the spatial task (but not the cue task) early in training. Selective lesions of the three hippocampal regions had no effects on either long-term retention or reversal of the nonspatial cue discrimination task. In contrast, rats that had all of the hippocampus removed were severely impaired in learning the spatial task, making many RM and WM errors, whereas on the nonspatial cue task, the impairment was limited to WM errors. Further analysis of the WM errors made in acquisition showed that rats with complete lesions were significantly more likely on both the spatial and nonspatial cue tasks to reenter arms that had been baited and visited on that trial compared to arms that had not been baited. A similar pattern of errors emerged for complete hippocampal lesioned rats during reversal discrimination. This pattern of errors suggests that in addition to an impairment in handling spatial information, complete removal of hippocampus also interferes with the ability to inhibit responding to cues that signal reward under some conditions but not under others. The finding that selective lesions limited to the intermediate zone of the hippocampus produce no impairment in either WM ("rapid place learning") or RM in our radial maze tasks serve to limit the generality of the conclusion of Bast et al. (Bast et al. (2009) PLos Biol 7:730-746) that the intermediate area is needed for behavioral performance based on rapid learning about spatial cues.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent results from both human epidemiological and experimental studies with animals suggest that intake of noncaloric sweeteners may promote, rather than protect against, weight gain and other disturbances of energy regulation. However, without a viable mechanism to explain how consumption of noncaloric sweeteners can increase energy intake and body weight, the persuasiveness of such results has been limited. Using a rat model, the present research showed that intake of noncaloric sweeteners reduces the effectiveness of learned associations between sweet tastes and postingestive caloric outcomes (Experiment 1) and that interfering with this association may impair the ability of rats to regulate their intake of sweet, but not nonsweet, high-fat and high-calorie food (Experiment 2). The results support the hypothesis that consuming noncaloric sweeteners may promote excessive intake and body weight gain by weakening a predictive relationship between sweet taste and the caloric consequences of eating.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intake of saturated fats and simple carbohydrates, two of the primary components of a modern Western diet, is linked with the development of obesity and Alzheimer's Disease. The present paper summarizes research showing that Western diet intake is associated with cognitive impairment, with a specific emphasis on learning and memory functions that are dependent on the integrity of the hippocampus. The paper then considers evidence that saturated fat and simple carbohydrate intake is correlated with neurobiological changes in the hippocampus that may be related to the ability of these dietary components to impair cognitive function. Finally, a model is described proposing that Western diet consumption contributes to the development of excessive food intake and obesity, in part, by interfering with a type of hippocampal-dependent memory inhibition that is critical in the ability of animals to refrain from responding to environmental cues associated with food, and ultimately from consuming energy intake in excess of that driven solely by caloric need.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous studies show that high-intensity sweeteners can stimulate weight gain in rats. The present studies examined whether caffeine, a stimulant commonly added to beverages consumed by humans, influences intake of saccharin- or glucose-sweetened solutions or body weight gain in rats and whether the nature of the maintenance diet influences the effects of caffeine. In two experiments, rats received glucose or saccharin solution mixed with 0.125 mg/g caffeine or no caffeine. Rats consumed significantly more caffeinated than noncaffeinated solutions when they were maintained on a low-fat chow diet (Experiment 1) and when maintained on a sweet, high-fat, high calorie chow diet (Experiment 2). Consumption of saccharin resulted in higher body weight gain in both experiments. Caffeine reversed this effect in Experiment 1 (low-fat diet) but not Experiment 2 (sweet, high-fat diet). The findings extend what is known about the conditions under which consumption of high intensity sweeteners promote energy dysregulation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While much has been elucidated about the hypothalamic controls of energy balance, the epidemic of obesity continues to escalate. Recent work has suggested that extra-hypothalamic central nervous system structures may play a previously un-appreciated role in the control of ingestive behavior and body weight regulation. Because animals can and do learn about food and food-related stimuli, as well as the consequences of eating, we and others have sought to understand the cognitive process that underlies that learning. Additionally, we have begun to investigate the neuro-anatomical bases for complex learning about food and food cues. Here we review some evidence for learning about food as well as evidence that the hippocampus may play a critical role in the brain's ability to regulate body weight through such learning processes.
Brain research 09/2010; 1350:71-6. · 2.46 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent epidemiological evidence points to a link between a variety of negative health outcomes (e.g. metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular disease) and the consumption of both calorically sweetened beverages and beverages sweetened with high-intensity, non-caloric sweeteners. Research on the possibility that non-nutritive sweeteners promote food intake, body weight gain, and metabolic disorders has been hindered by the lack of a physiologically-relevant model that describes the mechanistic basis for these outcomes. We have suggested that based on Pavlovian conditioning principles, consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners could result in sweet tastes no longer serving as consistent predictors of nutritive postingestive consequences. This dissociation between the sweet taste cues and the caloric consequences could lead to a decrease in the ability of sweet tastes to evoke physiological responses that serve to regulate energy balance. Using a rodent model, we have found that intake of foods or fluids containing non-nutritive sweeteners was accompanied by increased food intake, body weight gain, accumulation of body fat, and weaker caloric compensation, compared to consumption of foods and fluids containing glucose. Our research also provided evidence consistent with the hypothesis that these effects of consuming saccharin may be associated with a decrement in the ability of sweet taste to evoke thermic responses, and perhaps other physiological, cephalic phase, reflexes that are thought to help maintain energy balance.