Neuroscience senior Jamie Honohan devised the study in order to research the impact of high-fat and high-sugar foods in low-income neighborhoods:
“My research interests stemmed from a curiosity for studying human behavior and our motivations when it comes to food,” said Honohan. “We chose Oreos not only because they are America’s favorite cookie, and highly palatable to rats, but also because products containing high amounts of fat and sugar are heavily marketed in communities with lower socioeconomic statuses.”
To carry out the study, Honohan and two other students devised a maze. On one side of the maze, hungry rats would find an Oreo. On the other side, hungry rats would find (groan) rice cakes. Unsurprisingly, all the rats gravitated toward the Oreo, and like all cultured creatures, they would “ break it open and eat the middle first.”
The researchers compared the results of their study to a similar study in which rats were either given a shot of cocaine or morphine on one side of the maze or a shot of saline on the other. It turns out that the rats conditioned with Oreos spent as much time on the “drug” side of the maze as those who were conditioned with actual drugs.
Even more worrisome, the researchers found that the Oreos “activated significantly more neurons than cocaine or morphine.” So basically, if you give a mouse a cookie, who knows what the fuck he'll ask for next. He might ask for some coke, but he'll definitely want more cookies.
In conclusion, junk food is incredibly addictive, Oreos are delicious, and that other side of the maze sounds like a terrible place to be.
[Image via Shutterstock]