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The Science of Appetite [news]

Somewhere in your brain, there's a cupcake circuit. how it works is not entirely clear, and you couldn't see it even if you knew where to look. But it's there all the same—and it's a powerful thing. You didn't pop out of the womb prewired for cupcakes, but long ago, early in your babyhood, you got your first taste of one, and instantly a series of sensory, metabolic and neurochemical fireworks went off.

The mesolimbic region in the center of your brain—the area that processes pleasure—lit up. The vagus nerve flashed signals to the stomach, which began to secrete digestive acids. The pancreas began churning out insulin. The liver cranked up to refine the body's chemistry to accommodate the sugar and fat and starch that were coming in. As all those complex processes were unfolding, your midbrain filed away a simple, primal, unconscious idea: Cupcakes are good. A lifetime love affair—perhaps pleasant, perhaps tortured—began.