In this paper, a mini-review is presented on one of the most remarkable discoveries of the previous century with regard to neurology: the neuropeptide Y (NPY). Not only the multitude of biological studies devoted to this neurotransmitter, but also the complex interactions of NPY-signaling as well as important behavioral mechanisms such as those involved in food intake, in rewarding or motivational mechanisms and the role of NPY as a biogenic substratum for addictive behavior, all have stressed the importance of this neuropeptide. However, also a number of misconceptions may have obscured a proper understanding of its complex role. The historical framework of this review allows for considering a number of contextual aspects, that often are neglected or receive too little attention. Namely, the ‘context’ of methodological and experimental choices in biological studies, the context of interactions of the individual with its physical environment during the so-called natural foraging behavior, and the context of social and cultural factors at work in reinforcing addictive behavior.
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