Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep loss is associated with increased consumption of weight-promoting foods. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is thought to mediate reward anticipation. However, the precise role of the PFC in mediating reward responses to highly palatable foods (HPF) after REM sleep deprivation is unclear. We selectively reduced REM sleep in mice over a 25-48 hr period and chemogenetically inhibited the medial PFC (mPFC) by using an altered glutamategated and ivermectin-gated chloride channel that facilitated neuronal inhibition through hyperpolarizing infected neurons. HPF consumption was measured while the mPFC was inactivated and REM sleep loss was induced. We found that REM sleep loss increased HPF consumption compared to control animals. However, mPFC inactivation reversed the effect of REM sleep loss on sucrose consumption without affecting fat consumption. Our findings provide, for the first time, a causal link between REM sleep, mPFC function and HPF consumption.
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