It is known that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach but joining the league are women, according to a new study published in the journal Appetite.
So, before doing anything romantic, treat your lady love to a full meal as the study claims that a woman’s brain responds more to romantic cues on a full stomach than on an empty one.
Alice Ely of the College of Arts and Sciences says that young women, both with and without a history of dieting, have greater brain activation in response to romantic pictures in reward-related neural regions after having eaten than when hungry.
She says that the research data suggests that eating may prime or sensitise young women to rewards beyond food. It also supports a shared neurocircuitry for food and sex.
In the study, the researchers look at whether the brain’s reward response to food differed significantly in women at risk for future obesity versus those who had never dieted.
All of the study participants were young, college-age women of normal weight.
The researchers find that the brains of women with a history of dieting respond more dramatically to positive food cues when fed as compared to women who have never dieted or who are currently dieting.
Ely says the data suggests historical dieters, may be predisposed by their brain reward circuitry to desire food more than people who have not dieted. Longitudinal studies have shown that historical dieters are more at risk for weight gain.
After using MRI imaging, the historical dieters’ neural activity noticeably differed from the non-dieters in one brain region that also turned up in the earlier food studies.
Ely says that the pattern of response is similar to historical dieters’ activation when viewing highly palatable food cues, adding that this is consistent with research showing overlapping brain-based responses to sex, drugs and food.