Brain dopamine is associated with eating behaviors in humans




Eating behavior in humans is influenced by variables other than just hunger-satiety including cognitive restraint, emotional distress, and sensitivity to food stimuli. We investigate the role of dopamine (DA), a neurotransmitter involved with food motivation, in these variables.


We used the Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire (DEBQ) to measure Restraint, Emotionality, and Externality in 10 subjects. We correlated DEBQ scores with brain DA levels. Positron emission tomography and {11C}raclopride uptake were used to measure baseline D2 receptors (neutral stimulation) and to assess changes in extracellular DA to food stimulation (display of food).


Restraint was correlated with DA changes with food stimulation (higher restraint, greater responsivity), emotionality was negatively correlated with baseline D2 receptors (higher emotionality, lower D2 receptors), whereas externality was not. These correlations were significant in the dorsal but not in the ventral striatum.


These results provide evidence that DA in the dorsal striatum is involved with the restraint and emotionality components regulating eating behavior and that these two dimensions reflect different neurobiologic processes. © 2003 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.Int J Eat Disord 33: 136–142, 2003.