WASHINGTON — In this video exclusive, Martin Binks PhD, associate professor in nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University, head of the Behavioral Medicine and Translational Research Lab and director of the Nutrition and Metabolic Health Initiative, brings together the psychology and the neuroscience behind food choice and food cravings.
“We look at the psychological and behavioral measurement of the relationship with food often quite independently [from] the neurological and neurophysiological relationships between food and ingestion,” Binks said.
In a meta-analysis, Binks and colleagues found that study participants assigned a structured reduced-calorie food plan or meal-replacement plan experience diminished food craving over the course of treatment. Then, in an fMRI imaging study, the researchers found that after extended food restriction, the brain’s reward centers are more active in response to food cues during calorie restriction, but so are the executive function centers governing those reward centers.
“In a way, they’re counteracting each other,” Binks said.
The meal-replacement group over time experienced less food craving and greater weight-loss than the regular-food group.
“The brain, behind the scenes, is processing food cues in a way that leads people to not necessarily be experiencing the cravings overtly,” Binks said.