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Brains may be wired to count calories, make healthy choices

Constant exposure to high-calorie foods can disrupt metabolic memory, study of fruit flies suggests

11:00am, April 7, 2015
Banana Split

SWEET TREAT  Constant access to high-calorie foods can disrupt a fruit fly’s ability to make metabolic memories and might have the same effect in humans, a new study suggests.

Fruit flies’ brains may be wired to count calories.

Several genes in the brain appear to help the flies learn to distinguish between normal-calorie and high-calorie foods — and to remember to choose the healthier option later. Feeding the flies a constant diet of high-calorie foods disrupts their ability to make these metabolic memories, researchers report April 7 in Nature Communications.

Preliminary studies suggest that mice make similar metabolic memories, the researchers say. Taken together, the results hint that human brains may also be wired to do the same thing, which could have implications for weight control and health. But constant exposure to high-calorie foods may have damaged humans’ abilities to make metabolic memories, says study coauthor Dongsheng Cai of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Being able to rebuild humans’ metabolic memory could help

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