New research shows decreased activity in the parts of the brain that regulate "food desirability."
Over the past 30 years many studies have shown that sleep deprivation correlates with gaining weight. How exactly that works in our brains still isn't clear, though.
This week adds a small but interesting study (23 subjects) that looked at real-time brain imaging while people ate different kinds of food while sleep-deprived and rested. It found that "reward centers" in our brains seem to respond more strongly to fatty and sweet foods when we are sleep-deprived. We also generally make less "rational" (more impulsive) decisions when we're sleep-deprived, and this study showed that insular and frontal cortices that regulate "food desirability choices" were visibly less active when we haven't slept.
Matthew Walker, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley, is the lead author of "The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain" in the current issue of the journal Nature Communications.