Impact of High Fat Diet and Ethanol Consumption on Neurocircuitry Regulating Emotional Processing and Metabolic Function

Caitlin R. Coker, Bailey N. Keller, Amy C. Arnold, Yuval Silberman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The prevalence of psychiatry disorders such as anxiety and depression has steadily increased in recent years in the United States. This increased risk for anxiety and depression is associated with excess weight gain, which is often due to over-consumption of western diets that are typically high in fat, as well as with binge eating disorders, which often overlap with overweight and obesity outcomes. This finding suggests that diet, particularly diets high in fat, may have important consequences on the neurocircuitry regulating emotional processing as well as metabolic functions. Depression and anxiety disorders are also often comorbid with alcohol and substance use disorders. It is well-characterized that many of the neurocircuits that become dysregulated by overconsumption of high fat foods are also involved in drug and alcohol use disorders, suggesting overlapping central dysfunction may be involved. Emerging preclinical data suggest that high fat diets may be an important contributor to increased susceptibility of binge drug and ethanol intake in animal models, suggesting diet could be an important aspect in the etiology of substance use disorders. Neuroinflammation in pivotal brain regions modulating metabolic function, food intake, and binge-like behaviors, such as the hypothalamus, mesolimbic dopamine circuits, and amygdala, may be a critical link between diet, ethanol, metabolic dysfunction, and neuropsychiatric conditions. This brief review will provide an overview of behavioral and physiological changes elicited by both diets high in fat and ethanol consumption, as well as some of their potential effects on neurocircuitry regulating emotional processing and metabolic function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number601111
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jan 26 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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