Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

ERC

INSTINCTIVE DRIVES Result In Brief

Project ID: 200500
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: United Kingdom

The circuitry behind our 'bad' behaviour

Our basic instincts may well be at the root of our own potentially destructive behaviours. Researchers have found the brain circuitry responsible and are one step closer to understanding these instinctive drives.
The circuitry behind our 'bad' behaviour
Obesity and sleep deprivation can be linked to the basic instinctive drives of appetite and sleep. Understanding the brain circuits that regulate these instinctive drives will help us to combat social problems like obesity.

The EU-funded INSTINCTIVE DRIVES (Orchestration of instinctive drives) initiative aimed to understand the neural signals responsible for instinctive drives and their relationship to health and disease. The researchers set their focus on neurons known to be important in sleep and appetite.

Project members wanted to find out how orexin neurons, which control appetite and sleep, generate electrical and chemical signals, and how they interact with each other. They also wanted to relate altered versions of these neurons with diseases of energy balance and sleep.

The researchers observed the mechanisms by which orexin neurons generate nerve impulses. They discovered new ways to control the activity of orexin neurons through diet, as well as how they talk to other brain centres.

INSTINCTIVE DRIVES found that orexin neurons are overactive in the brains of Huntington's disease sufferers. Researchers also found that a neighbouring population of neurons are REM sleep generators.

This research brings us a step closer to understanding sleep and appetite as well as what happens when these drives become dysfunctional.

Related information

Keywords

Basic instincts, brain, instinctive drives, obesity, appetite, sleep, orexin neurons
Record Number: 188465 / Last updated on: 2016-09-08
Domain: Biology, Medicine