Understanding how benzodiazepines influence food
palatability could aid in the prevention of the
prevalence of over-weight and obesity in people
Each year over 6 million people are
diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and it is
estimated that over 50% or over 3 million people are currently
prescribed benzodiazepines for the treatment of anxiety.
Weight gain is listed as a side-effect of benzodiazepines
and laboratory research has shown that benzodiazepines
produce hyperphagia (over-eating) in rats possibly due to an
increase in the palatability of food.
Our research seeks to understand the role
of the inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA, in modifying afferent taste signals in this
hindbrain nucleus. The inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA is
known to be present in the hindbrain gustatory nuclei but
the specific effect of GABA on taste processing remains
unclear. Furthermore, research
has shown that experience can change the hedonic value of
taste stimuli and the parabrachial nucleus (PBN) in the
hindbrain represents an ideal site for these changes.
Our studies will be among the first to clarify the role
of GABA within the PBN in the control of feeding control
by examining the behavioral and neural responses to
benzodiazepines in the PBN.
Our project is the first to provide evidence of
benzodiazepines effects on neural taste processing in
the rodent nervous system.
Both Wofford and
Amherst colleges provide superb liberal arts educations.
Professors Pittman and Baird are providing opportunities at these
institutions for undergraduate students to gain high-quality
scientific training in a variety of behavioral and
neurophysiological methodologies. The experience of
working on a project in the Pittman or Baird laboratory can
prepare students to effectively transition into top-notch
Ph.D. graduate programs with meticulous data collection and
advanced data analysis skills, the ability to comprehend and
assimilate primary research literature, and the skills to
effectively present research at conferences and write
research publications. As documented on our
people in the lab page, our students enjoy success
in a variety of scientific, medical, and health-profession
graduate programs. Contact
Professor Pittman or
Professor Baird to get involved in the project!
Visit Dr. Pittman's Web Site
Visit Dr. Baird's Web Site
Site hosted by the laboratory of Dr. Dave Pittman
Associate Professor of Psychology, Wofford College
429 N. Church Street, Spartanburg, SC 29303
Research reported in
this publication was supported by the National Institute On
Deafness And Other Communication Disorders of the National
Institutes of Health under Award Number R15DC012195. The
content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does
not necessarily represent the official views of the National
Institutes of Health.