Scientists Spot Brain's 'Off' Switch for Water Intake03/28/14
FRIDAY, March 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Thirst is crucial to
staying healthy and hydrated, but how does the brain know when to
put a stop to water intake? A new study suggests that scientists
have solved that question.
There are real implications for medicine, since drinking too
much water can dilute salt concentrations in the blood, resulting
in potentially fatal brain swelling. The condition occurs in some
patients with schizophrenia and in some marathon runners, the team
of Australian researchers explained.
In their study, the researchers used MRI to scan volunteers'
brains at two points -- when they were thirsty, and then after they
drank as much water as they could.
"Different areas of the brain involved in emotional decision-making were activated when people drank water after becoming thirsty and [then] when study participants followed instructions to keep drinking when no longer thirsty," study author Derek Denton, a professor at the University of Melbourne, said in a university news release.
"The brain regions determining the signals to stop drinking have not previously been recognized in this context," he noted. The study, "identifies an important component in regulation and this 'stop mechanism' may prevent complications from excessive water intake."
The findings could be applied to other areas of human
gratification, such as eating, salt intake and sexual behavior,
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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