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Brain Imaging Research Shows Why Sleep-Deprived Individuals Crave Junk Foods

June 10, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A U.S. study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) sheds light on why sleep-restricted individuals find unhealthy foods more attractive and rewarding. fMRI of the brains of 25 normal-weight men and women showed that the sight of unhealthy food during a period of sleep restriction activated reward centers in the brain that were less active when participants had adequate sleep. Researchers said food intake data from the study showed that participants ate more overall and consumed more fat after a period of sleep restriction compared to regular sleep. “The brain imaging data provided the neurocognitive basis for those results," they said.
Marie-Pierre St-Onge et al., "Sleep restriction increases the neuronal response to unhealthy food stimuli", Presentation, annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, June 10, 2012, © Associated Professional Sleep Societies
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