Compulsiveeating behaviour is a transdiagnostic construct observed in certain forms of obesity and eating disorders, as well as in the proposed construct of 'food addiction'.
Compulsiveeating can be conceptualized as comprising three elements: (i) habitual overeating, (ii) overeating to relieve a negative emotional state, and (iii) overeating despite adverse consequences.
Neurobiological processes that include maladaptive habit formation, the emergence of a negative affect, and dysfunctions in inhibitory control are thought to drive the development and persistence of compulsiveeating behaviour. These complex psychobehavioural processes are under the control of various neuropharmacological systems.
Here, we describe the current evidence implicating these systems in compulsiveeating behaviour, and contextualize them within the three elements. A better understanding of the neuropharmacological substrates of compulsiveeating behaviour has the potential to significantly advance the pharmacotherapy for feeding-related pathologies.
This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'Of mice and mental health: facilitating dialogue between basic and clinical neuroscientists'.
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