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Chronic intake of high-energy diets alters the physiological response to food and favors overconsumption. Feeding, especially of palatable food, leads to dopamine (DA) release in the Nucleus Accumbens (NAc, in the ventral striatum), prefrontal cortex (PFC) and dorsal striatum. The mesocortical (ventral tegmental area (VTA) projecting to NAc) DA system has been implicated in motivational drive and food seeking while the nigrostriatal DA (projections from the substantia nigra (SN) to the dorsal striatum) pathway plays a role in both food anticipatory behavior and reinforcement. In humans, hypersensitivity to food-associated reward may predispose to weight gain, however as obesity progresses deficit in reward signaling emerges. Individuals with obesity have reduced DRD2 availability in prefrontal brain regions compared to lean counterparts. 

Jiyoung S. Kim, Kevin C. Williams, Rebecca A. Kirkland, Ruth Schade, ... Claire B. de La Serre

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