This event is organised by the Programme on Mind and Machine
Weight loss leads to an intense motivation to seek and consume food. We are examining the contribution of hypothalamic neurons to homeostatic hunger. Optogenetic activation of hypothalamic AGRP neurons rapidly induces hunger in mice. The motivational properties of AGRP neuron activity as well as in vivo calcium dynamics indicate that these neurons influence hunger responses through a negative valence teaching signal. These studies reveal a key role for AGRP neurons in learning about food. Our findings are consistent with a neuronal basis for negative emotional attributes of weight loss diets.
Speaker: Scott Sternson is a Group Leader at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus in Virginia. His research combines chemical, optical, and genetic tools to remotely control and monitor electrical activity in small neuron populations in the mouse brain in order to probe their influence on complex behaviors related to hunger. Sternson received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University (2001) and was subsequently a Helen Hay Whitney postdoctoral fellow in neurobiology and molecular genetics at The Rockefeller University (2006) with Jeffrey Friedman. He has been at Janelia since 2007. In recognition of his laboratory’s research, he has received the Helmholtz Foundation Young Investigator in Diabetes Award (2013) and the Linda and Jack Gill Transformative Investigator Award (2014).