A man’s heart is not the only one that requires a good meal to notice a potential lover. A new study has found that the way to a woman’s heart is also through her stomach.
A team of researchers from the University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine and Drexel University have conducted some tests and concluded that women respond better to romantic cues after eating a good meal.
Alice Ely, first author and postdoctoral research fellow from the University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine, gave a statement saying that she and her team “found that young women both with and without a history of dieting had greater brain activation in response to romantic pictures in reward-related neural regions after having eaten than when hungry”.
She went on to add that previously conducted studies have suggested that people usually show a greater sensitivity towards rewarding stimuli (food, money, drugs) when they feel hungry. However these findings did not hold true during the study.
Ely explained that the participating women were more responsive if they were fed first. She explained that the data she and her colleagues gathered indicates that “eating may prime or sensitize young women to rewards beyond food”. What’s more, the new findings also support the idea of a shared neurocircuitry between food and sex.
The study was inspired by an earlier study conducted by the same team. They previously looked at a group of obese college-age women and investigated how their brains were affected by various food cues, as well as whether or not these responses differed from historical dieters to non-dieters.
Their first study concluded that women who had a history of dieting had more dramatic responses to positive foods such as chocolate cake, when compared to both women who had never dieted as well as women who were following a diet at the time of the study.
Historical dieters had been found to have a higher risk of gaining weight, which suggested that they may have reward areas in their brains that are more predisposed to desiring food.
Looking back at this study, Ely and her colleagues theorized that historical dieters may also respond differently than non-dieters in their new study.
However, when using an MRI machine to look at the brains of the subjects while they looked at romantic images as well as neutral images, the researchers noticed that the brain response was the same were the same for both groups – they were less responsive to romantic cues when hungry, and more responsive to them after having eaten.
But there was one slight difference – they responded to romantic cues in different areas of the brains. When they were hungry, historical dieters responded more in the superior frontal gyrus, and when they were fed, they responded more in the middle temporal gyrus. This was similar to the response this group had when looking at positive foods in the team’s previous study.
The findings were recently published in the journal Appetite.
Image Source: glamour.com