- The mechanisms by which animals adapt to an
ever-changing environment have long fascinated
scientists. Different forces, conveying
information regarding various aspects of the
internal and external environment, interact with
each other to modulate behavioral arousal. These
forces can act in concert or, at times, in
opposite directions. These signals eventually
converge and are integrated to influence a
common arousal pathway which, depending on all
the information received from the environment,
supports the activation of the most appropriate
- The ability to anticipate physiological
needs and to predict the availability of
desirable resources optimizes the likelihood of
survival for an organism. The neural basis of
the complex behaviors associated with
anticipatory responses is now being delineated.
Anticipation likely involves learning and
memory, reward and punishment, memory and
cognition, arousal and feedback associated with
changes in internal and external state,
homeostatic processes and timing
- In the one hand, anticipation can occur on a
variety of timescales (seconds to minutes to
hours to days to a year), in the other hand,
circadian clocks enable the organisms to
anticipate predictable cycling events in the
environment. The mechanisms of the main
circadian clock, localized in the
suprachiasmatic nuclei of the hypothalamus,
involve intracellular autoregulatory
transcriptional loops of specific genes, called
- In the suprachiasmatic clock, circadian
oscillations of clock genes are primarily reset
by light, thus allowing the organisms to be in
phase with the light-dark cycle. Another
circadian timing system is dedicated to
preparing the organisms for the ongoing meal or
food availability: the so-called
food-entrainable system, characterized by
food-anticipatory processes depending on a
- A distributed neural system underlies the
generation and regulation of food-anticipatory
activities under restricted feeding.
Suprachiasmatic nuclei of the hypothalamus and
other brain regions have diverse roles,
including influences on motivational and
emotional state, learning and memory, hormone
release and feeding.
- Anticipation of daily events, such as
scheduled access to food, may serve as a useful
model for a more broadly based understanding the
neurobiology of anticipation. In particular,
restricted feeding schedules which limit food
availability to a single meal each day lead to
the induction and entrainment of circadian
rhythms in food-anticipatory activities in
rodents , macaques and other mammals.
- Food-anticipatory activities include
increases in core body temperature, activity and
hormone release in the hours leading up to the
predictable mealtime. Yawning is one of these
behaviors. Consumption, beyond homeostatic
needs, refers as reward-based feeding
- The ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMN)
is part of the circuitry that controls food
anticipation. It is the first nucleus activated
when there is a change in the time of food
availability, silencing of VMN ghrelin receptors
decreases food-anticipatory activity (FAA) and,
although lesions of the VMN do not abolish FAA,
parts of the response are often altered.
Redundant and possibly interacting pathways may
ultimately communicate with, or work in concert
with this network.
- Thus, the hypothalamic orexin system
regulates both diet preference and anticipation
of food rewards making it a likely target to
modulate reward-based feeding behavior.
- The cerebellum participates in motor
coordination as well as in numerous cerebral
processes, including temporal discrimination.
Animals can predict daily timing of food
availability, as manifested by food-anticipatory
activity under restricted feeding. The
cerebellum contains a circadian oscillator
sensitive to feeding cues (i.e., whose clock
gene oscillations are shifted in response to
restricted feeding). Thus, a role for the
cerebellum in the circadian timing network and
indicate that the cerebellar oscillator is
required for anticipation of mealtime.
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