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Ivan E de Araujo

Last update Tuesday 04 June 2019

Peripheral Sensory Control of Brain Reward Systems

Nash Family Department of Neuroscience,
Friedman Brain Institute,
Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Institute, 
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, 
New York City, NY

Peripheral Sensory Control of Brain Reward Systems

The presentation will describe recent advances linking peripheral sensory organs to the brain circuits that control reward, emotion and motivation.  Specifically, neuroanatomical and functional data will be shown to demonstrate that gustatory and gastrointestinal peripheral sensory neurons are connected to reward dopamine neurons via sensory-specific brainstem relays. Via ascending pathways of vagal and facial nerve origin, visceral neurons function as genuine reward neurons by stimulating midbrain dopamine secretion in striatum. More generally, a topographic sensory organization appears to exist throughout the striatum, with gastrointestinal vs. orosensory rewarding signals causing dopamine release into different striatal sectors. The extent to which these findings are confirmed by recent human neuroimaging findings will be also discussed. From a practical standpoint, cranial nerve pathways may thus constitute an accessible target for novel stimulation therapies for affective and eating disorders.