Food is not only the way to a man’s heart, but to a woman’s too, a new study published in the Appetite journal suggests.
Responding to romantic cues is a far easier task for women who have just had a meal and aren’t launching into the ensuing romantic history with an empty stomach.
The study was conducted by Alice Ely, who is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California School of Medicine, San Diego and looked specifically at reward responses in connection with romantic cues before and after the women involved in the study had eaten.
This new study comes to contradict a previous body of literature which suggested that we are wired to respond to rewarding stimuli with increased accuracy when we are hungry.
This seems to not be the case. Building on previous findings of a study published in the Obesity journal, Ely proposed a hypothesis that women who are ‘historical’ dieters are more sensitive to any rewarding cues than women who have never been on a diet.
Ely’s previous research, conducted while at the Drexel University, Philadelphia studied specifically how food triggers reward responses in the brain of women and whether these are different among the historical dieters or women who had never been on a diet or were just then following one.
At the time, the research concluded that historical dieters have more dramatic reward responses to food cues. As such, the new study analyzed how women responded to added reward cues both when having eaten and when they fasted.
The women selected for the study were in the age group of 18 to 25, and represented both historical dieters and women that had never been on a diet. The brain responses in both fed and fasting states were recorded permanently using MRI.
Alice Ely concluded after reviewing the data:
“This data suggests that eating may prime or sensitize young women to rewards beyond food. It also supports a shared neurocircuitry for food and sex”.
The reward-related zones in the brain were increasingly activated when romantic imagery was presented to the women after they had secured a yummy meal. However, with the historical dieters, an unusual pattern was observed.
Compared to women who had never been on a diet, historical dieters’ MRIs showed that when having eaten, the reward zones most active were located in the temporal gyrus. When showed romantic cues on an empty stomach, the reward zones most active were located in the middle temporal gyrus.
This finding correlated perfectly with previous research on reward-responses in connection to food cues shown to historical dieters. Their response to both romantic and food cues is far more intense than that of women who have not been on a diet.
Photo Credits: mirror.co.uk