Sensory perception drives food avoidance through excitatory basal forebrain circuits

Elife. 2019 May 10;8:e44548. doi: 10.7554/eLife.44548.


Appetite is driven by nutritional state, environmental cues, mood, and reward pathways. Environmental cues strongly influence feeding behavior, as they can dramatically induce or diminish the drive to consume food despite homeostatic state. Here, we have uncovered an excitatory neuronal population in the basal forebrain that is activated by food-odor related stimuli, and potently drives hypophagia. Notably, we found that the basal forebrain directly integrates environmental sensory cues to govern feeding behavior, and that basal forebrain signaling, mediated through projections to the lateral hypothalamus, promotes selective avoidance of food and food-related stimuli. Together, these findings reveal a novel role for the excitatory basal forebrain in regulating appetite suppression through food avoidance mechanisms, highlighting a key function for this structure as a potent integrator of sensory information towards governing consummatory behaviors.

Keywords: basal forebrain; cholinergic; circuit; feeding; hypothalamus; mouse; neuroscience; olfactory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite Regulation*
  • Basal Forebrain / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Food
  • Mice
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Odorants*
  • Olfactory Perception*