Three Pillars for the Neural Control of Appetite

Annu Rev Physiol. 2017 Feb 10:79:401-423. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-021115-104948. Epub 2016 Nov 28.


The neural control of appetite is important for understanding motivated behavior as well as the present rising prevalence of obesity. Over the past several years, new tools for cell type-specific neuron activity monitoring and perturbation have enabled increasingly detailed analyses of the mechanisms underlying appetite-control systems. Three major neural circuits strongly and acutely influence appetite but with notably different characteristics. Although these circuits interact, they have distinct properties and thus appear to contribute to separate but interlinked processes influencing appetite, thereby forming three pillars of appetite control. Here, we summarize some of the key characteristics of appetite circuits that are emerging from recent work and synthesize the findings into a provisional framework that can guide future studies.

Keywords: appetite; brain; eating; feeding behavior; hypothalamus; motivation; reward; satiety.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite / physiology*
  • Appetite Regulation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Motivation / physiology
  • Nervous System / physiopathology*
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena
  • Obesity / physiopathology