A recent study that was published in the Biological Psychiatry Journal shows how a brain circuit (called serotonin→dopamine) inhibits binge eating.
The scientists played with various scenarios to increase brain serotonin content using a mice model and mapped the anatomy of the serotonin→dopamine brain circuit (Xu et al., 2016).
Serotonin neurons in the midbrain directly “speak to” dopamine neurons in the nucleus accumbens. This communication channel between serotonin neurons and dopamine neurons seems to be the missing piece to stop binge eating. How? When boosting brain serotonin content, dopamine neurons are activated, which inhibits binge-like eating.
This makes sense, because previous studies showed that impaired brain serotonin signalling is linked to the development of binge eating in humans. In fact, binge eaters are found to have decreased brain serotonin. But when brain serotonin content increases, binge eating is supressed.
The serotonin→dopamine brain circuit is just one tiny piece in a massive puzzle, but, according to recent discoveries in neuroplasticity, the brain can change and thus we can create new brain circuits that are conducive for better food behaviours.