This presentation focuses on understanding how sensory, metabolic and neural signals are integrated to determine food choices and on how the dysregulation of these systems contribute to the development of obesity, diabetes and cognitive impairment.

Using a well-validated auction task of reinforcement value in combination with fMRI, Dr. Small conducted a recent study demonstrating for the first time in any species that foods containing fat and carbohydrate are more reinforcing, calorie for calorie, than foods containing only fat or only carbohydrate. More specifically, the study shows that individuals are willing to pay more for fat+carbohydrate foods compared to equally familiar, liked, and caloric foods containing only fat or carbohydrate. The study demonstrates that this potentiated reinforcement is associated with selective recruitment of a striatal circuits.


5:15pm Integration of Mind and Metabolism
Dana Small, PhD