The selfish brain: Stress and eating behavior

Achim Peters*, Britta Kubera, Christian Hubold, Dirk Langemann

*Korrespondierende/r Autor/-in für diese Arbeit
30 Zitate (Scopus)


The brain occupies a special hierarchical position in human energy metabolism. If cerebral homeostasis is threatened, the brain behaves in a "selfish" manner by competing for energy resources with the body. Here we present a logistic approach, which is based on the principles of supply and demand known from economics. In this "cerebral supply chain" model, the brain constitutes the final consumer. In order to illustrate the operating mode of the cerebral supply chain, we take experimental data which allow assessing the supply, demand and need of the brain under conditions of psychosocial stress. The experimental results show that the brain under conditions of psychosocial stress actively demands energy from the body, in order to cover its increased energy needs. The data demonstrate that the stressed brain uses a mechanism referred to as "cerebral insulin suppression" to limit glucose fluxes into peripheral tissue (muscle, fat) and to enhance cerebral glucose supply. Furthermore psychosocial stress elicits a marked increase in eating behavior in the post-stress phase. Subjects ingested more carbohydrates without any preference for sweet ingredients. These experimentally observed changes of cerebral demand, supply and need are integrated into a logistic framework describing the supply chain of the selfish brain.

ZeitschriftFrontiers in Neuroscience
Seiten (von - bis)1-11
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 01.12.2011

Strategische Forschungsbereiche und Zentren

  • Forschungsschwerpunkt: Gehirn, Hormone, Verhalten - Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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