About this Research Topic
Eating is not only crucial to survival, but it is also considered one of the greatest pleasures of human life. According to current perspectives from neuroscience and behavioral science, feeding behavior, particularly in humans, depends on both the homeostasis of energy/nutrition metabolism and the palatability of foods. Thus, most neuroscientific research examining feeding behavior has sought to investigate these two processes and the interactions between them.
Various sensory, motor, and cognitive processes are involved in feeding behavior, with olfaction and taste playing central roles. These senses are essential not only for experiencing the taste of food but also for judging whether a food is safe or dangerous to eat. However, even the mechanisms underlying the representation of basic odors and tastes in the human brain are largely unknown.
Cutting-edge analysis methods based on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), such as functional connectivity and multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) using machine learning, can be powerful tools for exploring the sensory, motor, and cognitive mechanisms underlying feeding behavior. In fMRI studies investigating olfaction or taste, researchers deliver odor or taste stimuli to participants. Compared with the presentation of visual stimuli, the delivery of odor and taste stimuli require more complex devices and are often inefficient. Participants’ mouth or tongue movements while receiving taste stimuli can easily cause motion artifacts in fMRI images. Moreover, the orbitofrontal area and the medial temporal lobe, major brain regions related to olfaction and taste, are known to be vulnerable to susceptibility artifacts. Therefore, technical or methodological studies may be valuable to resolve these issues.
Some diseases involving feeding behavior, such as anorexia and bulimia, are psychogenic. Elderly people and patients often complain of a decline in appetite, representing an important health issue affecting the quality of life. Moreover, the brain and gut are known to interact bidirectionally, and deficits in the brain-gut axis (or brain-gut interaction) can cause diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
For example, a large number of researchers have recently focused on the functional roles of gut microbiota in the host’s brain-gut interaction, opening up a new research frontier for the brain-gut-microbiota axis. To our knowledge, no previous studies have used neuroimaging methods yet to investigate the brain-gut-microbiota axis’ relation with diseases such as IBS.
Cutting-edge functional neuroimaging methods might provide promising tools for tackling eating-related pathologies and deepen our understanding of feeding behavior pathologies, providing outputs that could help to tackle eating-related diseases from different points.
This Research Topic aims to cover many aspects of feeding behavior, spanning from neurophysiology to pathology.
We encourage researchers to submit not only human studies but also animal studies using a wide range of neuroscientific and behavioral methods as tools to examine the common mechanisms underlying feeding behavior between humans and non-human animals.
Keywords: Feeding behavior, Olfaction, Taste, Functional neuroimaging
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