Prefrontal control of hypothalamic feeding circuits: balancing executive control of eating

Year of award: 2017


  • Dr John Apergis-Schoute

    University of Leicester

Project summary

It is thought that diminished or excessive control over the drive to eat seen in people with eating disorders results from under- or over-activation of prefrontal cortical (PFC) brain regions where decision-making is controlled. We want to investigate the link between the underlying circuitry between the PFC and feeding-promoting circuits of the hypothalamus.

Novel circuit-mapping strategies will be used to determine the functional relation between the two structures. This will set the groundwork for relating PFC and hypothalamic activity in a rodent eating disorder model that promotes under- or overeating. There will be two phases, one where animals restrict their food intake, the other where they overeat. We will monitor and relate changes in PFC and hypothalamic activity across phases where animals exhibit distinct feeding patterns and then attempt to normalise eating by manipulating prefrontal inputs to the hypothalamus. This will show that this circuit has a causal role on the impulse to eat.

This project will link executive circuits with feeding circuits and provide insight into the neural mechanisms underlying maladaptive eating behaviour.