Credit: Gil Costa
The team at EARA member the Champalimaud Foundation, Lisbon, fed food directly into the stomach of mice, to focus on the post-ingestion effects of the food, rather than its taste.
The findings published in Neuron show that, even without tasting the food, the mice selected high-calorie food rather than low-calorie.
The scientists then looked at how information about nutritional value reaches the brain and found that when a cranial nerve was damaged, the mice were unable to acquire this new type of learning.
Albino Oliveira-Maia, at Champalimaund, believes the work gives fundamental insights into feeding behaviour, and could help to understand and treat obesity.