Physiological need states and associated motivational drives can bias visual processing of cues that help meet these needs. Human neuroimaging studies consistently show a hunger-dependent, selective enhancement of responses to images of food in association cortex and amygdala. More recently, cellular-resolution imaging combined with circuit mapping experiments in behaving mice have revealed underlying neuronal population dynamics and enabled tracing of pathways by which hunger circuits influence the assignment of value to visual objects in visual association cortex, insular cortex, and amygdala. These experiments begin to provide a mechanistic understanding of motivation-specific neural processing of need-relevant cues in healthy humans and in disease states such as obesity and other eating disorders.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.