Corticotropin-releasing factor and neuropeptide Y work in synchronized opposition to each other to remodel and rewire neurons in the amygdala as a response to stress. The process, researchers say, can be manually reversed to help relieve anxiety.
A combination of chronic stress and high-calorie diets raised insulin levels tenfold in the amygdala of mice. Prolonged high levels of insulin in the central amygdala resulted in neurons becoming desensitized to insulin. The desensitized neurons boosted NPY levels, which promoted eating and reduced the normal homeostasis response to burn calories. The findings may shed light on why some indulge in high-calorie foods when stressed, and why this may lead to obesity.