You know that satisfying feeling you get after eating tasty food? You can thank your brain for that – twice, actually.

According to new research, having a good meal causes your brain to release the “feel-good” hormone dopamine at two different times – when you first ingest the food and when it hits your stomach (“Your brain rewards you”, 2018).

“With the help of a new positron emission tomography (PET) technique we developed, we were not only able to find the two peaks of dopamine release, but we could also identify the specific brain regions that were associated with these releases…while the first release occurred in brain regions associated with reward and sensory perception, the post-ingestive release involves additional regions related to higher cognitive functions,” stated senior author Marc Tiggemeyer (“Your brain rewards you”, 2018).

12 volunteers in the study were given either a milkshake or a tasteless solution for the data to be recorded. It was found that those who craved the milkshake more had a higher release of dopamine when they first tasted it – but the higher the craving, the less dopamine release was found when the milkshake reached their stomach (“Your brain rewards you”, 2018).

Interestingly enough, the ”craving” effect could actually contribute to why an individual overeats; they will have the initial dopamine release from the first taste, but won’t be fully “satisfied”. This is because the dopamine doesn’t release as much when the food hits the stomach. So, they will consume more for that initial dopamine release from tasting, thus having a tendency to overeat. (“Your brain rewards you”, 2018).

Reference: Cell Press. (2018, December 27). Your brain rewards you twice per meal: When you eat and when food reaches your stomach. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 29, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181227111420.htm