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The Bingeing Brain

January 17, 2014

The brain chemical serotonin may play a role in binge eating disorder.



The bingeing brain. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

(APM Alex/Flickr)

(APM Alex/Flickr)

People with binge eating disorder often feel unable to stop eating even after they’re full. Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston have discovered that the brain chemical serotonin plays a key role in the neurological disorder, at least in rats. Neuropsychopharmacologist Noelle Anastasio and her colleagues have found that the most impulsive rats also tend to binge on the most food.

NOELLE ANASTASIO (University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston):

We’ve discovered that there’s a critical protein in the brain that can set up high and low impulsivity.


That protein is a serotonin receptor called 5-HT2cR. When Anastasio’s team eliminated the receptor, rats with normal eating behaviors began to binge. The findings could contribute to the development of personalized treatments for people struggling with binge eating disorder.


Ultimately, understanding the biology may lead to better therapeutics.


I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.