Woman loses ability to feel hunger after a stroke

Originally published at: Woman loses ability to feel hunger after a stroke | Boing Boing


I just scored some wicked purple sticky bud, she’d get the munchies for sure after a session. That’s my scientific opinion.


I thought it was interesting that as a result, eating food gave her no pleasure. It suggests that, even when we gorge on something while full just because it tastes so good, hunger is still playing a role. (Though it’s also possible that the stroke did damage beyond just her sense of hunger, though.)


I wondered about this. If eating was now a chore for her, that could be a really miserable life. I’m sure pop media is spinning this as “how lucky she is to never gain weight!”, but I bet it’s actually a pretty big burden on her quality of life.

It’s always fascinating to me how much we learn from neurological disorders though. Like, for every brain function, there is a condition for when that function doesn’t work. Like people who can’t recognize faces, people who can’t read maps, or people who can only see faces when people are standing on their left, that sort of thing.


Yep, it would be awful. It’s similar to losing one’s sense of smell in terms of the impact - it so often gets dismissed, but it’s a really serious condition, in terms of quality of life.

Yeah, so much of our understanding (and misunderstanding) of the brain seems to come from seeing how it works when it’s broken. (Which makes sense, given the limits on how it can be studied.) “Blindsight” is a really interesting example, that I think reveals a lot about how the brain works more generally.
Then there’s a lot of false beliefs created by studying brains damaged in more than one way, or by discounting the plasticity of the brain (the whole “right-brain, left-brain” thing, based on a series of misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions).


Or maybe in those scenarios the insula is functioning, but it’s conflating different kinds of “hunger.” ? IDK.

But it would suck to lose the pleasure of eating. Poor woman.


I don’t quite understand. She must still feel pain in her stomach if it’s empty for too long? She must still see stars if her blood sugar gets too low? Or at least she gets tired or gets headaches if she doesn’t eat?
Maybe my own brain is too messed up and I don’t know what “hunger” means… I’ve learned to pay attention to lots of physiological signals telling me I ate too little that day. It’s kind of hard to believe she can now function normally without eating just because her brain got a bit damaged.

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There is no way she is actually functioning normally. Losing all ability to feel hunger and recognition of satiety in eating is already a profound dysfunction. The media spin here is pretty gross.


I used to be anorexic. I can’t speak for everyone, but after a few days the pain stopped for me. I only really noticed things were wrong when I started having trouble standing up because my blood pressure was so low.


This is my big fear about COVID. That common effect of the disease gets way too little play in the media, IMHO. Either that or people don’t appreciate how damaging that is to quality of life. Like John Scalzi’s daughter, for anyone who follows his blog. She can no longer eat peanut butter and some other things because they taste rancid to her, thanks to COVID.

I haven’t heard if the milder cases one can still get while vaccinated have this effect, but I hope not.


Oof, thats a little terrifying.

I’m someone who can accidentally forget to eat for most of a day, feel lightheaded then nearly pass out when getting up at times.

But even then, i do eventually notice…

If i had this and was living alone, i could quite easily get to the point where i’d pass out and not be able to save myself… shiver :open_mouth:


Yeah, that’s something I’ve been trying to figure out, but loss of smell is perversely considered a “mild” symptom. So every time I see assurances that the vaccinated mostly only experience “mild” cases with breakthrough infections, I’m not exactly reassured. I’m slightly heartened by reports that being vaccinated seems to greatly decrease the chances of getting “long covid,” so hopefully this means any loss of smell is temporary. (The loss often is, even with the unvaccinated.) But because the seriousness of it is so down-played, it’s hard to tell whether persistent loss of smell is separated from “long covid” or not, because it rarely gets discussed. Although at this point, it’s not been around long enough to know what the long term impacts could be, even. So… yeah, still nervous.

And pissed off, too, reading about the response by the medical establishment. I read about one case where a woman’s doctor broke the news with a cheery “now you’ll be a cheap date,” which enrages me every time I think about it. He not only totally dismissed the impact on her life, he only considered how it would (positively) impact the (presumed) men around her… other sufferers reported medical responses that were dismissive at best. I mean, no wonder this isn’t being tracked properly, if that’s the attitude by doctors.


Ugh, what an ass.


I’ve hade the same condition after a round of bacterial meningitis. It lasted for about 6 months (gradually went away) and I lost quite a lot of weight. Food still tasted good, but apparently hunger really is the best spice. A few bites was usually all it took and the taste I had had was enough and any more was just a chore.

I don’t quite understand. She must still feel pain in her stomach if it’s empty for too long? She must still see stars if her blood sugar gets too low? Or at least she gets tired or gets headaches if she doesn’t eat?

I mostly just forgot about eating if there was no social cue that it was time for food. I remember once i started feeling a bit dizzy and weak, and realised it had been almost two days since I had last eaten anything. There was no feeling of stomach pains or anything like that at all.

Nowadays I’m mostly back to normal. I can still remember the feeling of hunger not being a thing, and it was really strange time.


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