Reward, feeding, obesity, running, leptin, dopamine, lipids, depression
Our laboratory studies the neural processes that give rise to reward and emotional states. One line of investigation aims to understand the neural pathways and signaling mechanisms that underlie the rewarding effects of food and physical activity and their contribution to obesity and metabolic disease. In part, we are investigating how peripherally-derived hormones and nutrients modulate mesolimbic dopamine neurons, an important component of the neural circuitry controlling motivation, reward and emotional function. Another focus is to identify the neural and metabolic adaptations that occur in response to consumption of palatable, high-energy foods and their role in the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes and mood disorders like depression. Excessive intake of certain dietary lipids can impact midbrain and limbic reward circuitry to lead to impaired reward sensitivity, anxiety-like behaviour and depressive symptomology. To this end, we are currently examining the influence of dietary lipids and associated metabolic disturbances on neuronal and glia function in brain reward pathways.
Hryhorczuk C., Sharma S., Fulton S. (2013). "Metabolic disturbances connecting obesity and depression." Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7:177
Sharma S., Fulton S. (2013). "Diet-induced obesity promotes depressive-like behaviour that is associated with neural adaptations in brain reward circuitry." International Journal of Obesity, 37(3):383-9
Sharma S., Fernandes M.F., Fulton S. (2013). "Adaptations in brain reward circuitry underlie food cravings and anxiety induced by high-fat diet withdrawal." International Journal of Obesity, 37(9):1183-91
Fulton S. (2010). "Appetite and Reward." Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 31(1):104-112