Feeding-induced dopamine release in dorsal striatum correlates with meal pleasantness ratings in healthy human volunteers

Neuroimage. 2003 Aug;19(4):1709-15. doi: 10.1016/s1053-8119(03)00253-2.


Seven healthy subjects underwent two [(11)C]raclopride positron emission tomography (PET) scans, one following a 16-h fast and the other after consumption of a favorite meal (following a 16-h fast) in counterbalanced fashion. Before and after each scan subjects gave ratings of hunger/fullness and desire to eat. In addition, meal pleasantness ratings were collected immediately after consumption of the favorite meal. PET data were analyzed using brain parametric maps to generate regions of statistically significant change, as well as regions of interest manually drawn on each individual's coregistered anatomical image. [(11)C]Raclopride binding potential was compared across the two states (hungry and full). A significant reduction in binding potential was observed in the full compared to the hungry state in the dorsal putamen and caudate nucleus, indicative of dopamine release. There were no changes elsewhere in the striatum. A correlation was observed between the reduction in [(11)C]raclopride binding and meal pleasantness ratings, but not with desire to eat (hunger) or satiety after eating. These results suggest that feeding is associated with dopamine release in the dorsal, but not the ventral striatum, and that the amount of dopamine released correlates with the degree of experienced pleasure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Caudate Nucleus / physiology
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology*
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hunger / physiology
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Male
  • Putamen / physiology
  • Raclopride
  • Satiety Response / physiology
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*


  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Raclopride
  • Dopamine