THE COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE OF APPETITE AND OVER-EATING

What drives and constrains eating behaviours?

How can we optimise our behaviour through reinforcement learning?

How does the brain allocate its cognitive and motor resources for positive versus negative behaviours?

How, why and in whom may this process go wrong?

In collaboration with the Metabolic Research Laboratories, this work explores the ways in which environmental cues are integrated with internal homeostatic signals in order to drive and constrain eating.

The theme uniting both the neurobiology of mental illness and this research area concerns reinforcement learning: the collection of processes by which we come to respond to cues and contexts in order to optimise our behaviour. The successful organism is one that can predict its environment and allocate its cognitive and motor resources in order to get good things and avoid bad things. Understanding how the brain governs this process will be critical to understanding how, why and in whom it may go wrong. The work is supported by the Wellcome Trust  and the Bernard Wolfe Health Neuroscience Fund.

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