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Brain-immune interactions and the neural basis of disease-avoidant ingestive behaviour

Gustavo Pacheco-López and Federico Bermúdez-Rattoni
Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences
Vol. 366, No. 1583, Disease avoidance: from animals to culture (12 December 2011), pp. 3389-3405
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23035743
Page Count: 17
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Brain-immune interactions and the neural basis of disease-avoidant ingestive behaviour
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Abstract

Neuro—immune interactions are widely manifested in animal physiology. Since immunity competes for energy with other physiological functions, it is subject to a circadian trade-off between other energy-demanding processes, such as neural activity, locomotion and thermoregulation. When immunity is challenged, this trade-off is tilted to an adaptive energy protecting and reallocation strategy that is identified as 'sickness behaviour'. We review diverse disease-avoidant behaviours in the context of ingestion, indicating that several adaptive advantages have been acquired by animals (including humans) during phylogenetic evolution and by ontogenetic experiences: (i) preventing waste of energy by reducing appetite and consequently foraging/hunting (illness anorexia), (ii) avoiding unnecessary danger by promoting safe environments (preventing disease encounter by olfactory cues and illness potentiation neophobia), (iii) help fighting against pathogenic threats (hyperthermia/somnolence), and (iv) by associative learning evading specific foods or environments signalling danger (conditioned taste avoidance/aversion) and/or at the same time preparing the body to counteract by anticipatory immune responses (conditioning immunomodulation). The neurobiology behind disease-avoidant ingestive behaviours is reviewed with special emphasis on the body energy balance (intake versus expenditure) and an evolutionary psychology perspective.

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