Integrative Hedonic and Homeostatic Food Intake Regulation by the Central Nervous System: Insights from Neuroimaging

Alejandro Campos, John D. Port, Andres Acosta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Food intake regulation in humans is a complex process controlled by the dynamic interaction of homeostatic and hedonic systems. Homeostatic regulation is controlled by appetitive signals from the gut, adipose tissue, and the vagus nerve, while conscious and unconscious reward processes orchestrate hedonic regulation. On the one hand, sight, smell, taste, and texture perception deliver potent food-related feedback to the central nervous system (CNS) and influence brain areas related to food reward. On the other hand, macronutrient composition stimulates the release of appetite signals from the gut, which are translated in the CNS into unconscious reward processes. This multi-level regulation process of food intake shapes and regulates human ingestive behavior. Identifying the interface between hormones, neurotransmitters, and brain areas is critical to advance our understanding of conditions like obesity and develop better therapeutical interventions. Neuroimaging studies allow us to take a glance into the central nervous system (CNS) while these processes take place. This review focuses on the available neuroimaging evidence to describe this interaction between the homeostatic and hedonic components in human food intake regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number431
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • fMRI
  • food intake regulation
  • gut–brain axis
  • hedonic eating
  • neuroimaging
  • reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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