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Hunger hormone tied to learning

Study shows ghrelin improves learning and memory, but some researchers remain unconvinced

Melissa Lee Phillips
The neurohormone ghrelin, best known for its role in appetite and energy metabolism, also influences learning and memory, according to a new study in Nature Neuroscience. Specifically, Sabrina Diano of Yale University School of Medicine and her colleagues found that high levels of ghrelin in rodents can alter hippocampal morphology and improve performance on memory and learning tasks. This pattern may have provided an evolutionary advantage, the authors speculate, by boosting memory skills during food searches when animals are hungry.The study doesn?t prove that normal levels of circulating ghrelin control learning and memory, said Robert Steiner of the University of Washington in Seattle, but ?it still is a pretty interesting concept? that ghrelin can modulate hippocampal function and memory performance. ?It establishes a nice platform for further investigation, particularly in the pharmacological realm,? added Steiner, who was not involved in the research.Ghrelin is released primarily from stomach...

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