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“Hunger may motivate us more than thirst, fear, or anxiety.” Like No ratings yet.

Human motivation has been studied for decades, primarily in an attempt to answer one question: what drives us to take one action over another? Researchers shed some light in a new study, after finding hunger is a stronger motivational force than thirst, fear, anxiety, and social needs.

Senior author Michael J. Krashes, of the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and colleagues recently published their findings in the journal Neuron.

Put simply, motivation is the reason for acting in a particular way or making a certain choice over another.

In the 1940s, American psychologist Abraham H. Maslow created the “hierarchy of needs” – a set of five “needs” that he believed explained human motivation.

These range from physiological needs – such as food, water, and other requirements for human survival – to self-actualization, the desire for personal growth and success.

Over the years, researchers have either acknowledged, criticized, or amplified Maslow’s theory. With regard to the latter, neurologists have increasingly investigated the role of the human brain in motivation.
Hungry and thirsty mice opted for food over water

According to Krashes and team, most neurological studies of motivation are conducted in tightly controlled conditions and have focused on investigating one motivational state at a time, which has made it difficult to determine if some states are stronger drivers than others and what brain circuits are involved.

With a view to addressing this knowledge gap, the researchers conducted a series of mouse experiments in which they assessed a variety of motivational states, including hunger, fear, anxiety, and social needs.

For the study, the team used optogenetics – a technique that uses light to control cells – to govern nerve cells in the brain known as agouti-related peptide (AgRP) neurons.

AgRP neurons are situated in the brain’s hypothalamus. They are known to regulate appetite and are crucial for survival.

For one experiment, the researchers either deprived mice of food for 24 hours or activated their AgRP neurons in order to make them hungry. These mice were also deprived of water, making them thirsty. A control group was deprived of water but not food.

(Share Info from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313178.php)

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