Food Effects on our Brain: Definition of Concepts

Food Effects on our Brain: Definition of Concepts

Food Effects on our Brain: Definition of Concepts

Neurons:  these are the basic cells of the brain which get stimulated when food which is rich in sugar, fat, and salt gets into the mouth. They are interlinked in circuits and commune with each other to generate feelings, stock up information and monitor a person’s behavior. Neuronsact in response to rewarding foods by means of firing electrical signals and discharging brain chemicals thattravel to all the interconnected neurons(Kessler, 2010, p. 35).

Encoded for Palatability: this refers to when neurons respond to rewarding foods or show a preference for by shooting electrical signals and discharging brain chemicals that travel to interconnected neurons. That is, a small proportion of a neuron is distinctively encrypted to react to a definite sensory property of food. For example, a neuron may specifically respond only to taste, another only to texture (Kessler, 2010, pp. 35-36).

Orosensory Self-Stimulation: this is a term coined by Gerard Smith. It refers to the cyclical process in which eating delicious foods tells the brain to make an individual want more of those foods (Kessler, 2010, p. 37). The orosensory properties of foods primarily refer to their capacity to stimulate the taste apparatus. That is, the feeling of preference or liking or salience towards a particular food. The orosensory effect is the sense that a food is appetizing

Opioid Circuitry: this refers to the body’s primary pleasure system (Kessler, 2010, p. 37). It includes the neurons located in the brain which are kindled by taste and other characteristics of highly palatable food. The opioids, also called endorphins and are the chemicals produced in the brain and which have a rewarding effect similar to drugs. Stimulating the opioid circuitry with food drives people to eat.

Nucleus Accumbens: this is a section of the brain that is the center of reward. When a person chews food, the sensory experience of taste travels from the lower brain through the midbrain, reaching regions of the brain where the sensory signal of food are integrated and thereafter relayed to the Nucleus accumbens (Kessler, 2010, p. 37).

Taste-Specific Satiety:  this refers to a mechanism of the brain where an individual after eating a particular amount of one food, the individual typically becomes satisfied with it’s taste and stops eating it.However, they will keep on eating if something else is made available (Kessler, 2010, p. 38).

Hedonic Hot Spot:  this is one of the wellsprings of pleasure in the brain. It is located in the nucleus accumbens, and a stimulation of this hot spot results to an individual extremely liking something (Kessler, 2010, p. 40).

Dopamine: it is one of the chemicals of the brain. It is the chemical that motivates people’s behavior and impels them towards food. It increases a person’s sense of anticipation and gets people to engage in a complex set of pursuit-and-acquisition behaviors so that one can recapture the remembered pleasure of a favored food.

Attentional Bias: this refers to the embellished extent of attention that is directed towards highly rewarding stimuli at the expense of other stimuli. It allows people to pick out what matters most so that they pursue them (Kessler, 2010, p. 41). In other words, attention bias is the survival-based capacity through which dopamine drives desire. It gives rewarding foods their prominence in a person’s mind. The more rewarding the food is, the grander the attention people direct towards it and the more vigorous people pursue it.

Conditioned Stimulus: this refers to the signal that triggers desire. It is the signal that predicts the food, rather than the food itself and as a result generates a dopamine response(Kessler, 2010, p. 50). It is the cue that grips people, in the process arousing people to act.

Incentive Salience: it is a term coined by Kent Berridge and serves the purpose of helping in explaining what is going on. It refers to the desire, activated by cues for something that predicts desire(Kessler, 2010, p. 52). It is a learned association.

Hot Stimulus: this refers to food that lights up the emotional centers of the brain, getting an individual to think, feel and respond to his desire. It happens when memories interact with reward pathways that drive a person’s behavior (Kessler, 2010, p. 57).That is, when positive associations become ingrained in the brain motivating a person’s behavior even when one is not aware of them.

Functional Connectivity: this refers to the changes in the biological circuitry of the brain due to the cues associated with highly rewarding and reinforcing foods (Kessler, 2010, p. 60).

Action Schemata: these are the automatic or mental imprints of the actions people take and the specific sequence in which the individual takes them which are as a result of eating highly rewarding foods (Kessler, 2010, p. 61). They develop quicker and become stronger when the stimulus driving a person’s behavior is reinforcing.

Habits: these are the repetitive behaviors that result when a familiar stimuli activates well-established neural pathways prompting an individual to react the same way(Kessler, 2010, p. 61).The moment a script is imprinted in the brain, the behavior it dictates becomes routine to the extent that a person can respond to it even before they are conscious of the stimulus.



Kessler, D. A. (2010). The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite (reprint ed.). New York: Rodale.

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