Hunger Casts a Cruel, All-consuming Spell, Study Confirms

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If you can think of literally nothing else but food when you’re hungry, it may be by design. New research suggests that hunger is a more powerful force than thirst or even fear.

For the study, published in the journal Neuron, researchers at the National Institutes of Health conducted a series of experiments designed to compare the relative strength of hunger as a motivator compared to other needs. For the first experiment, they put food and water out for mice that were either hungry and thirsty or just thirsty. The mice that were both hungry and parched ignored their thirst and went right for the food, whereas the thirsty mice chose water.

In another experiment, they scented a chamber with a chemical that foxes produce and put food in those areas. There were two sets of mice in the cage: ones that had specific neurons activated in order to make them hungry and a control group. The hungry mice overcame their fear of the potential fox and chowed down while the others stayed huddled in safe spots.

Finally, they put socially isolated mice in a cage that had food in one chamber and a mouse in the other. Mice with neuron-activated hunger chose the food over hanging with another mouse, even though they’re social animals. Plus, their neuron activity increased, possibly because they viewed the other mice as competitors for food. The rodents who weren’t hungry preferred the chamber with a buddy.

Hunger might be the most powerful motivator known to man. This explains why the smell of bacon is the only thing that can get me out of bed before 10 on a Sunday.