October 12, 2011

Discussion to Focus on the Brain and Food Choices

Let’s say you’ve been good all week, following your diet as best you can, and you completed a major project under deadline. Spying a slice of decadent desert, you think: I deserve this chocolate cake.

If you could peer into the brain, what kinds of processes would be involved in thinking of that slice of cake as a reward?

New research at KU has focused on the role of the brain in evaluating the rewarding properties of food, and how we make decisions about what to eat and how much. Using the technology of functional MRI, Cary Savage and his research team have been working toward understanding how brain function makes a diet successful.

Savage, who is director of the KU Center for Health Behavior Neuroscience at the KU Medical Center, will lead a discussion about this aspect of the brain and the implications for obesity research at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Free State Brewing Co., 636 Massachusetts Street. The free event is part of the KU Natural History Museum’s Science on Tap series of informal “science café” events.

Savage is the John H. Wineinger Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. His research focuses on the roles of prefrontal cortex and limbic system in memory and motivational processes, and how activity in these brain regions contributes to health-related decision making. Areas of specific interest include brain mechanisms of eating, exercise adherence, and compulsive behavior.

For more information about the event, please visit naturalhistory.ku.edu/events.