Scientists have discovered a new brain circuit that causes marijuana users to get insatiably hungry, commonly known as “the munchies.” In a study of mice, researchers found the hunger is triggered in part by brain cells that usually turn down appetite.
Marijuana causes these brain circuits to switch from signaling “don’t eat” to “eat,” USA Today reports. The findings appear in Nature.
The Yale University researchers gave mice a synthetic version of one of the active ingredients in marijuana, and were surprised to find it activated brain cells called POMC neurons, which usually repress the urge to eat. Mice given the drug ate three to four times their normal amount of food.