“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. Looks like the age old saying might need some tweaking. According to a newly published study, women’s brains respond more to romantic cues on a full stomach than an empty one. The researchers from Drexel University seem to have found evidence for stating that.
The study was published in the journal Appetite. The lead author of the study was Alice Ely, a doctoral student under the supervision of Michael R. Lowe, PhD, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at Drexel University, who was the senior author. The study explored brain circuitry among women who were either past dieters or those who had never dieted. These women were studied in hungry versus satiated states.
“We 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,” said Ely. These results are however contrary to a similar study put forth in Obesity journal last year. According to that study, people typically respond stronger to rewarding stimuli when hungry. Such stimuli may include things like food, money and drugs. “In this case, they were more responsive when fed,” she said. “This data suggests that eating may prime or sensitize young women to rewards beyond food. It also supports a shared neurocircuitry for food and sex.”
This work was based on a previous pilot study by Ely and her colleagues that investigated on how brain responds to food cues. They had looked into the difference (if any) in brain’s reward response to food in women at risk for future obesity (historical dieters) versus those who had never dieted.
“Based on this study, we hypothesized that historical dieters are differentially sensitive— after eating—to rewards in general, so we tested this perception by comparing the same groups’ brain activation when viewing romantic pictures compared to neutral stimuli in a fasted and fed state,” she said. Testing was done using MRI imaging. “The pattern of response was similar to historical dieter’s activation when viewing highly palatable food cues, and is consistent with research showing overlapping brain-based responses to sex, drugs and food,” said Ely.
They say that romance starts in the kitchen and not in the bedroom. And now scientists have evidence for that. So, in case you are trying to woo your lady love, you know where to begin!