The anterior medial temporal lobes: Their role in food intake and body weight regulation

Physiol Behav. 2016 Dec 1:167:60-70. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.08.028. Epub 2016 Aug 31.


The anterior medial temporal lobes are one of the most studied parts of the brain. Classically, their two main structures - the amygdalae and the hippocampi - have been linked to key cognitive and affective functions, related in particular to learning and memory. Based on abundant evidence, we will argue for an alternative but complementary point of view: they may also play a major role in food intake and body weight regulation. First, an overview is given of early clinical evidence in this line of thought. Subsequently, empirical evidence is presented on how food intake, including in the extreme case of obesity, may relate to amygdalian and hippocampal functioning. The focus is on the amygdala's role in processing the relevance of food stimuli, cue-induced feeding, and stress-induced eating and on the hippocampus' involvement in the use of interoceptive signals of hunger and satiety, as well as memory and inhibitory processes related to food intake. Additionally, an elaboration takes place on possible reciprocal links between food intake, body weight, and amygdala and hippocampus functioning. Finally, issues that seemed particularly critical for future research in the field are discussed.

Keywords: Amygdala; Body weight; Food intake; Hippocampus; Learning; Memory.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Temporal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*