NEW LONDON, CT (WKOW) -- According to new research, Oreos can be as addictive to the brain as cocaine.
Researchers from Connecticut College tested their theory using rats. They gave the hungry rodents Oreos on one side of a maze and rice cakes on the other. Then, they would give the rats the option of spending time on either side of the maze and measure how long they would spend on the side where they were typically fed Oreos.
"My research interests stemmed from a curiosity for studying human behavior and our motivations when it comes to food," Jamie Honohan, a neuroscience major who thought of the study, said. "We chose Oreos not only because they are America's favorite cookie, and highly palatable to rats, but also because products containing high amounts of fat and sugar are heavily marketed in communities with lower socioeconomic statuses."
In a second experiment, rats were given a shot of either cocaine or morphine on one side of the maze and a shot of saline on the other.
What the research team found was, the chocolate cookies trigger the same neurons in the brain's "pleasure center" as cocaine or morphine.
"Our research supports the theory that high-fat/ high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do," Neuroscientist Joseph Schroeder said. "It may explain why some people can't resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them."
Honohan says that is a problem for the general public.
"Even though we associate significant health hazards in taking drugs like cocaine and morphine, high-fat/ high-sugar foods may present even more of a danger because of their accessibility and affordability," Honohan said.
Schroeder will present the research next month at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego, California.
One fun fact about the experiment is the rats go for the cream center first, like most humans.
"They would break it open and eat the middle first," Honohan said.
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