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BrainFacts.org

Introduction

For better or worse, you are what you eat. Certain foods and activities have beneficial effects on brain health, while others are more problematic. Obesity is deeply rooted in the brain, where hunger signals and eating behaviors are based. Fortunately, scientists are increasingly aware of how the brain processes information about food and physical activity. This information could one day help reduce the numbers of overweight and obese people, and improve long-term brain health. While eating habits were once thought to be a simple matter of self-control, researchers now know the chemical processes in the brain that drive feelings of hunger and fullness are complicated. Recent animal studies show fatty and high-calorie foods activate the brain’s reward system, and excessive eating leads to long-term brain changes. By studying the interactions between genes, brain chemicals, and the environment, researchers hope to develop new ways to address the global obesity epidemic.

Discoveries

Source: Society for Neuroscience

Much like cigarettes and alcohol, a diet laden with fats and sugars can become dangerously addictive.

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Just like other cells in the body, brain cells use a form of sugar called glucose to fuel their activities. This energy comes from the foods we consume daily, and is regularly delivered to brain cells through the blood.

Diet and Exercise in the News

Source: The Atlantic
Date: 3 Sept 2014
A new study finds that behavioral intervention could help vegetables light up the neurological reward system the way a cookie does.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Date: 19 Aug 2014
More physically fit children had stronger brain tissue linked to cognition.
Source: New York Times
Date: 11 Aug 2014
The discovery of a small network of brain cells holds the potential to advance to treatment of eating disorders in people.
Read more about neuroscience core concepts for the U. S. National Science Education Standards.