The hormone ghrelin is released by the stomach in anticipation of food. Just like the saying goes ” do not go to the supermarket when hungry,” the same goes for many rational decisions. This study was performed in rats, but has far reaching implications intuitive applications for the rest of us. Being hungry effects our behavior for the worse!
In summary: Rats were trained that they get sugar when pressing a lever or in another case they get sugar if they do not press the lever. They have a cue like a light or a sound to inform they which action is requested.
Rats injected with ghrelin continuously pressed the lever even if the cue informed them that it was not time to press the lever. This resulted in the rat also not receiving the reward. They push and push even though the instructions were that not pushing the lever rewards them with the sugar prize. Their delayed gratification was affected! They could have gotten sugar if they were less impulsive.
This same effect can be seen if you are so hungry that you fill yourself up before going out to a restaurant even though the assumption is that the restaurant food will be tastier then whatever snack you find when hungry and impulsive. If you had only waited….
What about kids with impulsivity issues? Also important to make sure they are not hungry and eating well-balanced meals and snacks, rather then getting to low sugar levels and prevent getting in trouble.
Keeping blood sugar levels in check and staying statisfied with higher fat meals should help from getting to the impulsive (usually carbohydrate-rich) eating stage.
- Rozita H Anderberg, Caroline Hansson, Maya Fenander, Jennifer E Richard, Suzanne L Dickson, Hans Nissbrandt, Filip Bergquist, Karolina P Skibicka. The Stomach-Derived Hormone Ghrelin Increases Impulsive Behavior. Neuropsychopharmacology, 2015; 41 (5): 1199 DOI: 10.1038/npp.2015.297