Cortisol, but not intranasal insulin, affects the central processing of visual food cues.
- Immune Endocrine and Epigenetics
Stress glucocorticoids and insulin are important endocrine regulators of energy homeostasis, but little is known about their central interaction on the reward-related processing of food cues. According to a balanced group design, healthy food deprived men received either 40IU intranasal insulin (n=13), 30mg oral cortisol (n=12), both (n=15), or placebo (n=14). Acoustic startle responsiveness was assessed during presentation of food and non-food pictures. Cortisol enhanced startle responsiveness during visual presentation of "high glycemic" food pictures, but not during presentation of neutral and pleasant non-food pictures. Insulin had no effect. Based on the "frustrative nonreward" model these results suggest that the reward value of high glycemic food items is specifically increased by cortisol.