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Being hungry makes you smarter A Fact of Life and a fact for Students. Be hungry - Steve Jobs

The Question

Question: do you know about ghrelin, it is a hormone produced by the cells lining the acer of the human stomach.  It is what stimulates hunger but also it enhances thought processes and helps learning and more is present when you are hungry. I was wondering if it is released when one gets the munchies from smoking marijuana.  That being true wouldn’t you be able to learn better on an empty stomach or when hungry?

"The stimulation of hunger, the researchers announced in the March issue of Nature Neuroscience, may cause humans to take in information more quickly, and to retain it better — basically makes them smarter as well."
Somehow that doesn't work for me as it makes my mind wander to yummy foods especially if I can smell it.

Ghrelin is a hormone released by the gut when the absence of food is sensed. It is known to act on the hypothalamus in endocrine and metabolic regulation. Horvath's laboratory reports that making mice 'biochemically hungry' with ghrelin injections improves their performance in maze and other intelligence tests. From their abstract: "circulating ghrelin enters the hippocampus and binds to neurons of the hippocampal formation, where it promotes dendritic spine synapse formation and generation of long-term potentiation. These ghrelin-induced synaptic changes are paralleled by enhanced spatial learning and memory."

This suggests that a great way to prepare for an examination or demanding performance might be, according to Christopher Shea in the NYTimes comment on this work, "Go in mildly hungry, not carbo-loaded for endurance, and snack to maintain that edgy state. Such advice, applied on a national scale, might help save our schools. Since overweight kids have suppressed ghrelin levels, Horvath theorizes that perhaps the obesity epidemic has contributed to declining test scores and other American educational woes."

Empty-Stomach Intelligence

Hunger makes the best sauce, goes the maxim. According to researchers at Yale Medical School, it may make quadratic equations and Kant’s categorical imperative go down easier too. The stimulation of hunger, the researchers announced in the March issue of Nature Neuroscience, causes mice to take in information more quickly, and to retain it better — basically, it makes them smarter. And that’s very likely to be true for humans as well.
Illustration by Leanne Shapton

Empty-stomach intelligence.

A team led by Tamas Horvath, chairman of Yale’s comparative medicine program, had been analyzing the pathways followed in mouse brains by ghrelin, a hormone produced by the stomach lining, when the stomach is empty. To the scientists’ surprise, they found that ghrelin was binding to cells not just in the primitive part of the brain that registers hunger (the hypothalamus) but also in the region that plays a role in learning, memory and spatial analysis (the hippocampus).

The researchers then put mice injected with ghrelin and control mice through a maze and other intelligence tests. In each case, the biochemically “hungry” mice — mice infused with ghrelin — performed notably better than those with normal levels of the hormone. The finding was startling, but “it makes sense,” Horvath says. “When you are hungry, you need to focus your entire system on finding food in the environment.” In fact, some biologists believe that human intelligence itself evolved because it made early hominids more effective hunters, gathers and foragers.

Horvath says we can use the hormonal discoveries to our cognitive advantage. Facing the LSAT, a final exam or a half-day job interview? Go in mildly hungry, not carbo-loaded for endurance, and snack to maintain that edgy state. Such advice, applied on a national scale, might help save our schools. Since overweight kids have suppressed ghrelin levels, Horvath theorizes that perhaps the obesity epidemic has contributed to declining test scores and other American educational woes.

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