Neurobiology of eating behaviour: The pig model in behavioural neurosciences applied to human alimentation and health

David Val-Laillet, M.C. Meunier-Salaun, C.M. Clouard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional


The pig is an excellent model to study human eating behaviour and its neurobiological determinants. The pig is omnivorous and has a digestive system that closely resembles that of humans. Furthermore, the establishment of eating behaviour and food preferences in the pig follows the same rules and influences as those identified in humans. It is thus possible to observe similar behavioural responses related to food in both species, like for instance spontaneous attractions for certain basic flavours, or the development of preferences that have been conditioned or learned through individual experiences or signals perceived in the environment or transmitted by the mother. In addition, the brain of pigs and humans shares common developmental, anatomical and functional features, thus enabling precise explorations via the use of modern techniques of brain functional imaging. The neurobiological mechanisms underlying the development of food preferences or aversions have been described in the pig model, as well as some neurocognitive abnormalities associated with obesity or the chronic consumption of deleterious diets. Therefore, the pig can be used as a pertinent model to explore new therapies, such as vagus nerve stimulation or deep brain stimulation, to fight against obesity and eating disorders. The pig model thus offers many opportunities for exploratory and preclinical biomedical research in the field of food and nutritional neurosciences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-290
JournalINRA Productions Animales
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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