I hate it when people abuse poor, poor mice.
Over a six-week period, the team of experts fed one group of mice a low-fat diet, while feeding a second group of mice a high-fat diet, so that they could analyze how the different foods impacted the behavior of the animals.
Eleven percent of the calories in the low-fat diet consisted of fat, and 58% in the high-fat diet. This caused the high-fat group an 11% increase in their waist size, but they were not yet considered obese.
Fulton and her team then examined the association between rewarding mice with food and their behavioral and emotional outcomes by using a variety of methods that have been scientifically proven. The brains of the animals were also analyzed so that the experts could observe any changes that had occurred.
The researchers found that the high-fat group showed signs of anxiety, for example, they tried to avoid areas that were open. According to the authors, the animals' experiences physically changed their brains.
Dopamine was one of the molecules in the brain that was observed. It allows the brain to reward people with good feelings, which in turn, motivates individuals to acquire particular behaviors.
Dopamine is a chemical which works the same in humans as it does in mice and other animals. CREB is a molecule which regulates the activation of genes that play a part in the functioning of human brains, including the ones that cause dopamine to be produced. It also contributes to the forming of memories.