Featured Paper of the Month – December 2021
Regulating food intake is essential for survival and many factors influence feeding behaviors beyond caloric need or “hunger”. Despite this, some neurons that drive feeding in mice are routinely referred to as ‘‘hunger neurons,’ whereas others are not. To understand how specific hypothalamic neurons control interoceptive hunger, we trained mice to discriminate feelings of “hunger” from satiety. We then used optogenetics to manipulate the activity of three hypothalamic neuronal populations with well-known effects on feeding while mice performed this behavioral task. We found that arcuate nucleus AGRP neurons drive a hunger-like internal state, whereas GABAergic and glutamatergic lateral hypothalamic neurons do not. Our study highlights the complexity of hypothalamic feeding regulation and can be used as a framework to characterize how other neuronal circuits affect hunger and identify potential therapeutic targets for eating disorders.