Binge eating disorders, characterized by uncontrollable bouts of excessive feeding, are often associated with obesity. Furthermore, the recent surge in high-fat foods has increased the propensity of binge-eating disorders and obesity-related diseases. Thus, understanding the effects of high-fat foods on the activity of precise neurophysiological systems that are important for regulating energy balance will be critical to the proper identification of novel therapeutic treatments for binge-eating disorders an obesity. Thus, the goals of this proposal are to characterize the neural activity patterns of genetically defined neuronal populations during binge eating of high-fat foods, as well as to provide a neurocircuit tracing map for binge eating. To accomplish this, I will use in vivo electrophysiology paired with optogenetics to monitor changes in firing patterns during multiple binge-eating episodes. Taken together, this proposal will provide novel insight into specific neural signals of binge eating and obesity.
Binge eating is a disorder characterized by excessive feeding that is uncontrollable. The research generated in this proposal will investigate the neurophysiological dynamics and connectivity of two discrete neuronal populations that are thought to be critical for energy balance. These data will elucidate the precise neurobiological mechanisms underlying binge eating, and may lead to the development of potential therapeutics to treat obesity-related disorders.