Obsessive as Cocaine- Baked Oreo Cookies to Lab Rats

A team of students and a professor of neuroscience have identified that Oreo cookies may be as addictive as cocaine or morphine – to laboratory rats at least.Professor Joseph Schroeder and his students at Connecticut College were performing study on the addictiveness of high-fat and high-sugar foodstuff, and how, for instance, they may play a role to the obesity epidemic.

Prof. Schroeder states that:

“Our study helps the theory that high-fat, high-sugar foodstuff activate the brain in the same way that drugs do. It may describe why some individuals can’t avoid these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”

One of the students, Jamie Honohan (who has since graduated with a BA in Behavioural Neuroscience), was especially curious in human motivation and food, and how the obesity epidemic may be connected to the prevalence of high-fat, high-sugar foodstuff in low-income communities. It was her concept to use Oreos, as she clarifies in a assertion released this week:

“We select Oreos not only because they are America’s popular cookie, and highly palatable to rats, but also because goods that contains high quantities of fat and sugar are heavily sold in areas with lower socioeconomic statuses.”

The outcomes of their research are being provided at the Society for Neuroscience conference that is taking place beginning November in San Diego, CA.

Measuring pleasurable outcomes

The research reveals that for rats, the connection between the pleasurable effects of eating Oreos and a particular environment was as powerful as for cocaine or morphine and a particular environment.

For their research, the students gave Oreos to hungry rats on one side of a maze, and on the other side of the maze they provided them a “control” food, in this situation, rice cakes (Prof. Schroeder comments that like humans, rats do not seem to relish rice cakes very much). Then they provided the rats the choice to go to either side of the maze (without the food present), and assessed how long they spent on the side where they were generally fed with Oreos in comparison with the side they were fed with rice cakes.

The scientists then repeated the research with another group of rats. This time, rather of feeding them Oreos and rice cakes, they injected them with addictive drugs – like as cocaine and morphine – when they were on one side of the maze, or saline, when they were on the other side.

The outcomes indicate that the rats “addicted” to Oreos spent as much time on the side where they had been treated with Oreos as the rats that had been treated with addictive drugs spent on the drugs side of their maze.

They identified Oreos triggered many more neurons than cocaine or morphine. This is in line with the conclusions of the earlier behavioural studies and facilitates the idea that the high-fat, high-sugar foods are addictive.