The tendency to engage in or maintain feeding behaviour is potently influenced by the rewarding properties of food. Affective and goal-directed behavioural responses for food have been assessed in response to various physiological, pharmacological and genetic manipulations to provide much insight into the neural mechanisms regulating motivation for food. In addition, several lines of evidence tie the actions of metabolic signals, neuropeptides and neurotransmitters to the modulation of the reward-relevant circuitry including midbrain dopamine neurons and corticolimbic nuclei that encode emotional and cognitive aspects of feeding. Along these lines, this review pulls together research describing the peripheral and central signalling molecules that modulate the rewarding effects of food and the underlying neural pathways.
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