FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:
This study provides direct evidence that when activity in a particular brain region is reduced, cravings for unhealthy snack foods are increased.
The brain region in question is part of the frontal lobes - the dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex (DLPFC) - an area already known to be involved in various cognitive activities such as forward planning, and controlling impulses.
Impaired functioning of this region is implicated in various mental conditions, including ADHD, substance use disorders and other forms of impulsive and/or addictive behaviour.
Here, transcranial magentic stimulation was used to reduce DLPFC activity temporarily in healthy individuals, who then consumed more unhealthy, highy processed snacks afterwards.
By contrast, DLPFC suppression had no effect on the amount of healthy snacks they chose to consumed.
These findings add to the evidence that cravings for ultra-processed foods (high in refined sugars, starches and fats, as well as artificial additives)
may involve some of the same brain mechanisms involved in other forms of addictive behaviour.
See the associated news story: