Outline and Evaluate the Role of Neural Mechanisms in Eating Behaviour

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Outline and evaluate the role of neural mechanisms in eating behaviour

AO1:
One way in which eating behaviour is controlled is by a process called homeostasis. This involves mechanisms which both detect the state of the internal environment and also correct the situation to restore that environment to its optimal state. The body has evolved two separate systems, one for turning eating on and another for turning it off. Glucose levels play an important role in producing feelings of hunger. When there is a decrease in blood glucose, this increases the feeling of hunger which is activated by the lateral hypothalamus in the brain. This contains a neurotransmitter called the neuropeptide Y which causes the individual to consume food, therefore resulting in the glucose levels to rise again. This rise in glucose levels activates the ventromedial hypothalamus which leads to feelings of satiation. The ventromedial hypothalamus contains an area called the paraventricular nucleus which is believed to cause a condition called hyperphagia (over eating). This is turn inhibits further consumption until the blood glucose levels have decreased again. AO2:

Research into homeostasis can be applied to everyday life. For example, Doctors or Pharmaceuticals can develop medication such as special pills which specifically target centres within the homeostasis model – lateral hypothalamus and the ventromedial hypothalamus. Medication can be developed for those who are either obese or underweight. This is because levels of blood glucose have been found to affect an individuals eating behaviours and therefore their weight too. This medication which can treat obesity can help increase glucose levels which in turn activate the ventromedial hypothalamus on. This then reduces the amount the individual eats. Those who are underweight can take medication containing the hormone neuropeptide Y which will activate the lateral hypothalamus. This information is useful because obesity is such...
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