Animal studies are all very well but we can’t be expected to believe that humans will behave in the same way as mice or rats… can we?
Humans are the thinking animal with emotions, feelings, and an understanding of our impact on others and our environment aren’t we? Yes, however, the higher order brain regions are often offline in times of stress and uncertainty.
This research is suggesting that in times of stress, our primitive brain is sending signals to store fat and hoard “stuff” because it’s protecting us from future scarcity just like the animals we evolved from.
In our primitive past, stress was being chased and eaten by predators or killed by other tribes but in 2022 our stress may just be a constant feeling of not being “enough” or the nagging notion of being a “failure”.
Our brain can’t tell the difference. Hunters and gatherers experienced the “fight or flight” response when faced with a predator. They dealt with the stress by killing or being killed. Either way this stress response was short lived; if it persisted, it was likely to be due to famine, severe weather, or some other external threat.
In this case saving energy, by way of “hoarding” fat and supplies, was the right strategy.