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Nasser’s Brain Pleasure Response Study Published in Obesity Journal

June 27, 2013

Jennifer Nasser, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, led a study that used electroretinography (ERG) to measure the brain’s pleasure response to eating. The low-cost tool looks at dopamine in the retina, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and expectation for reward.

The study found that electrical signals in the retina increased when a piece of a chocolate brownie was given to the participants to eat. “What makes this so exciting is that the eye’s dopamine system was considered separate from the rest of the brain’s dopamine system,” Nasser said. She would like to see more “user-friendly tools” to maximize nutrition and pleasure while minimizing the negative side effect of excess calories.

Nasser’s study was published in May by the research journal Obesity. It also received extensive media coverage, including in National Geographic.