If you want to woo a lady, inviting her to dinner may just work in your favour as a new study shows that women’s brains respond more to romantic cues on a full stomach.
Researchers at Drexel University explored brain circuitry in hungry versus satiated states among women who were past-dieters and those who had never dieted.
The study’s first author Alice Ely, PhD, said that they found that young women both with and without a history of dieting had greater brain activation in response to romantic pictures in reward-related neural regions after having eaten than when hungry.
As per the data, eating may prime or sensitise young women to rewards beyond food. It also supports a shared neurocircuitry for food and sex.
The latest finding, based on a small pilot study, grew from Ely and her Drexel colleagues’ earlier work investigating how the brain changes in response to food cues. Specifically, the researchers looked at whether the brain’s reward response to food differed significantly in women at risk for future obesity (historical dieters) versus those who had never dieted. All of the study participants were young, college-age women of normal weight.
Ely said the data suggests historical dieters, who longitudinal studies have shown are more at risk for weight gain, may be predisposed by their brain reward circuitry to desire food more than people who have not dieted.
While both groups’ reward centers responded more to romantic cues when fed, the historical dieters’ neural activity noticeably differed from the non-dieters in one brain region that had also turned up in the earlier food studies.
The pattern of response was similar to historical dieter’s activation when viewing highly palatable food cues, and was consistent with research showing overlapping brain-based responses to sex, drugs and food, said Ely.
The study is published online in the journal Appetite.