Dr. Yoni Kupchik earned the title of ‘promising young scientist’ from the Israeli business daily, Calcalist, for his research unveiling similar neurological underpinnings between obesity and cocaine addiction. Dr. Kupchik is a member of the Department of Medical Neurobiology at Hebrew University’s Hadassah Medical School and conducts research on the neurological effects of addiction. His research focuses on the brain’s lack of control as a result of addictive behaviors.
“What is interesting,” Dr. Kupchik explained,” is that the brain has a natural defense mechanism to fight addiction. Normally, the brain directs the body to behave in a beneficiary way. Under addiction this natural instinct is damaged, causing the brain to let the body harm itself.” he elaborated.
Kupchik studied the part of the brain that regulates responses to rewards and motor functions in cocaine addicts and discovered that the nucleus accumbens is responsible for the brain overpowering its own natural defense mechanism to addiction.
Intrigued, Dr. Kupchik, decide to investigate the connection between overeating and the natural reward response system in the brain. When he replaced cocaine with fatty foods and foods with excess sugar, subjects responded like their cocaine addicted peers, constantly signaling for more food and as a result growing obese. Dr. Kupchik discovered that the neurological reaction that caused the subjects to eat more food was the same as one that pushed the others to “need” cocaine.
Dr. Kupchick states that people who suffer from obesity describe themselves as unable to stop eating and often obesity is connected to a slow metabolism or an eating disorder His study proves that –at least in research– obesity stems from the reward system in our brains.
While it is still too early to fully apply Dr. Kupchik’s research, his work gave scientists yet another direction in understanding the causes of addiction.