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Hunger the Best Sauce, can Turn Repulsion into Wanting

Update Date: Feb 07, 2013 03:07 AM EST

All the things that one deems as repulsive might actually hold appeal under adverse conditions, a new study finds.

The research was authored by Mike Robinson, a research fellow in the Department of Psychology of the University of Michigan, and Kent Berridge, James Olds Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, and was published in the journal Current Biology.

The study finds that when a person is hungry, thirsty, stressed or under the influence of drugs, it makes them want things that they had previously found repulsive. During these adverse conditions, a specific area gets activated which changes an individual's dislike to liking.

The researchers observed that rats liked a metal object which had sugar and always disliked the metal with Dead sea salt solution. However, when they were exposed to a particular drug, the next day they found the Dead sea salt solution consumable as they had an appetite for sodium. So while previously the rats avoided the salt and consumed the sweet, under drug influence it was exactly the opposite.

It was observed that during the adverse conditions, or drug addiction, the nucleus accumbens gets activated. This is located in the lower part of the fore brain. An anticipation of a probable reward also triggers this part of the brain, for example, the smell of food can make a person hungry. The nucleus accumbens is a collection of neurons and has a significant role in a person's reaction to reward, placebo effects and also controls laughter, pleasure, addiction, aggression and fear.

This would also probably explain how drug addicts always find it next to impossible to quit when in contact with the object of their temptation. Although they know the effects of drug addiction, an addict is always tempted due to the activation of this part of the brain circuit.

"The cue becomes avidly 'wanted' despite knowledge the salt always tasted disgusting. Our findings highlight what it means to say that drugs hijack our natural reward system," Robinson was quoted as saying in Medicalxpress.

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