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Mechanisms: Regulation
- Module 4: PART 1 -

Physiological Mechanisms: Regulation

• Homeostasis and other regulation mechanisms
• Regulation of:
• hunger
• thirst
• sexual motivation
• aggression
• Failures of homeostasis:
• anorexia
• bulimia
• obesity
self-regulating processes by which biological systems
tend to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions
that are optimal for survival; detect change in internal
“environment” through sampling (e.g., monitors glucose
levels in blood)

Motivation triggered when

body state is too far from
the optimal balance
• low food energy stores
 hunger  food
hunger satiety seeking/eating
• full stomach/sufficient
food energy  satiety
 stop eating
Other mechanisms?
Primed responses from cues (from memory)
• Examples of cues:
• Smells, times of day (meal times), events (Thanksgiving)
Characteristics of stimuli
• Less variety of flavor and texture  faster to reach
satiety (”sensory specific satiety”)
• Pleasing flavors  more eating when not hungry
• High calorie foods  eat more when hungry

Critical thinking question: What might be some

cues or stimuli qualities affect thirst?
Regulation of eating behavior
Basic metabolism: Food to energy and
compounds needed by the body

g body

Signals from body and brain
Local theories (Cannon and Washburn, 1912)
• Signals controlling hunger are produced in the peripheral organs of
the body
• Based on experiments in which Washburn swallowed balloons which
were inflated – saw that stomach wall movement (from balloon)
triggered feelings of hunger
• Problem: Vagus nerve connects stomach and brain, but when cut –
hunger still experienced
Central theories
• Brain detects changes in body’s state and triggers appropriate
motivations to keep body in homeostatic state
• Key region: Hypothalamus, connected to many brain regions, controls
critical autonomic nervous system functions, pituitary gland, endocrine
system, detect changes in blood components
Hypothalamus: specialized

Damage ventromedial Damage lateral

hypothalamus (VMH) and hypothalamus (LH): animal
adjacent fiber bundles: won’t eat or drink
extreme overeating and (aphagia), regulate weight
related weight gain to a lower body “set point”
Do glucose receptors in the
hypothalamus control all
excitatory and inhibitory
hunger signals?

• “Glucostatic theory of hunger”, evidence for

• hypothalamus sensitive to changes in levels of blood glucose
• decreased blood sugar detected by LH  trigger eating
• increased blood sugar detected by VMH  inhibit eating
• Evidence against?
• VMH may not have glucoreceptors
• When damage only to VMH (no adjacent fibers), no obesity
• lesions to the LH result in other behavior deficits
• general lack of arousal and motivation – not just for eating
Regulating hunger motivations
Short-term Long-term
• when and how much we eat • feeding to keep body
• monitors blood glucose weight stable
secrete hormones for hunger • monitors fat/lipid stores
(e.g., ghrelin) and satiety (e.g., (weight/fat “set point”)
obestatin) • affects leptin levels (also
• stretch receptors in stomach insulin), detected by arcuate
walls (with consumption of nucleus in hypothalamus
food)  turn off hunger •  produces
(NTs) that control

• Appetite NTs
• neuropeptide Y
• α-MSH
Short-term regulation continued…
• Controlled by glucose sensitive system
• But, not just central nervous system receptors in
VMH and LH
• Accomplished by the duodenum and/or liver
• Evidence they control hunger and satiety
• Changes in glucose levels here alter eating
behaviors lab studies
• Influenced by the level of cholecystokinin
(CCK) in the blood
• Secreted by upper intestine in response to
presence of food
• Sends signal to brain to stop eating