At least when it comes to lab rats…
You may feel downright criminal the next time you eat an Oreo, and you have a Connecticut College student to thank for that. Neuroscience major Jamie Honohan came up with the idea for a study, which dug into the effects of high-fat and high-sugar foods on the brain.
The conclusions: The brain goes wilder for Oreos than for drugs, and the two are equally addictive—at least when it comes to rats.
The findings were born out of two tests, as explained by Connecticut College News:
- In the first, rats were deposited in one of two areas in a maze. On one side they were given a control (rice cakes or saline); on the other, the test subject (Oreos or cocaine or morphine). They were then allowed to scurry to whatever side of the maze they wanted, and the students found that the rats who had been fed Oreos spent as much time on the Oreo side as the rats who had been injected with the drugs spent on the drug side, indicating that the link they made between the “pleasurable effects” of Oreos/drugs and that specific environment was equally strong.
- If that doesn’t wow you, maybe this will: Another student went on to measure the expression of the protein c-Fos in the brain’s “pleasure center,” and found that “significantly” more neurons were activated in response to Oreos than in response to drugs.
Best side note of the study: Honohan also observed how the rats ate the cookies. “They would break it open and eat the middle first.”
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