Mark L. Andermann, Ph.D.

Research

Our lab studies the cortical networks guiding hunger-dependent attention to food cues. We aim to understand how hunger causes changes in the brain and potential consequences for obesity, binge eating, and other eating disorders. Previous studies support a simple model for processing food cues: when someone is satiated, feeding cue information, such as an image of a cupcake, is sent to the visual cortex, but may not subsequently spread beyond the parahippocampal cortex to subcortical areas that orchestrate food-seeking behavior. By contrast, during states of hunger, the parahippocampal cortex may be primed such that food cue information is passed along to areas that drive food-seeking. With the Pew award, I intend to characterize the influence of natural and experimentally induced states of hunger on homologous cortical brain regions of transgenic mice. Using wide field and two-photon calcium imaging, we will assess how hunger influences sensory processing, both across and within brain areas, by observing the response to food-related, fear-related, and neutral cues. This work will move medicine towards specific cognitive therapies for binge eating and over-eating disorders related to obesity.

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