The Neurobiology of Allostasis

How does the repeated experience of a stimulus alter the brain to regulate future behavior? 

"Allostasis focuses on the active process of adaptation to many challenges... and centers around the brain as interpreter and responder to environmental challenges and as a target of those challenges".  - Bruce McEwen

Currently, our focus is on the role of specific neural circuits in reward processing and feeding behavior. Abundant epidemiological evidence supports the idea that the availability of calorically dense, highly palatable foods is a leading cause promoting our nations ongoing obesity epidemic.  Difficulty abstaining from unhealthy foods and relapse to poor eating habits are prominent behaviors associated with the development of obesity and suggests the ability to self-regulate may be altered in vulnerable populations. While the neural circuits regulating feeding in response to hunger and satiety are well-studied, less is understood regarding intake in the absence of metabolic need; termed hedonic feeding.  


Behavioral Model

calorically dense palatable diets

 Physiology: in vivo & ex vivo

          fiber photometry                     slice electrophysiology

Automated Behavioral Classification