Although it is known that obesity results from a combination of both genetic and environmental causes, it is now becoming apparent that the perinatal period (i.e., pregnancy and the period immediately following birth) is crucial in the development of the brain regions responsible for the control of food intake. By using electrophysiological recording techniques to study the properties and behavior of nerve cells in brain regions associated with the regulation of feeding, this project will investigate the concept that exposure to a diet high in fat during the critical perinatal period permanently alters the properties of neurons in these brain regions, making them less responsive to signals that would normally terminate feeding. The results of these studies will help explain how nutrition affects the development of particular brain regions and may provide a means by which we can understand how the perinatal environment affects the likelihood of developing obesity later in life. This project will also allow graduate students at Penn State College of Medicine to learn a wide variety of different experimental techniques, particularly complex electrophysiological investigations into nerve cell behavior, to answer the far-reaching questions being asked.
|Effective start/end date||6/1/12 → 5/31/18|
- National Science Foundation: $900,000.00