By Valeria Nekhim, StyleCaster
The Oreo is so much more than just a cookie, the ubiquitous pantry staple is as much a part of American culture as, say, the Statue of Liberty, or Sunday night football. However, the results of a recent Connecticut College study looking at how high-fat and high-sugar foods affect the brain, gives new meaning to the saying ignorance is bliss.
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Spearheaded by neuroscience major, Jamie Honohan, the study shows Oreos and drugs are equally addictive, and that eating cookies is actually more pleasurable, well at least, with regards to rats. The brain's reaction to America's favorite cookie helps explain why certain individuals can't resist foods even though they know they're bad for them, explained Professor Joseph Shroeder.
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To test their hypothesis, rats were placed in one of two areas in a maze. On one side they were given a control (rice cakes or saline); on the other, the test subject (Oreos or cocaine or morphine). They were free to move around as they wish, and the students learnt that the rats who had been given Oreos spent as much time on the Oreo side as the rats who had been injected with the drugs spent on the drug side, showing the connection they established between the "pleasurable effects" of Oreos/drugs and that specific environment was just as strong.
Another student then found that "significantly" more neurons were activated in response to Oreos than in response to cocaine or morphine, after measuring the expression of the protein c-Fos in the brain's "pleasure center." They're just that delicious.
And perhaps the freakiest part of all this is Honohan discovered rats ate the cookies just like humans: "They would break it open and eat the middle first." Crazy, huh?
Honohan hopes the study will alert people to the fact high-fat/high-sugar foods might pose an even greater danger than drugs like cocaine and morphine because they're so much more accessible and affordable. Well, here's to changing how we look at Oreos, not to mention rats.
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