05/06/2015 01:43 EDT | Updated 05/06/2015 01:59 EDT

This Is Why Some Women Crave Late Night Snacks

If sneaking a piece of cake from the fridge at midnight seems somehow better than doing so in the evening, that's because certain areas of your brain are more receptive to food at night, according to a new study on women at Brigham Young University in the U.S.

"You might over-consume at night because food is not as rewarding, at least visually at that time of day," says lead author Travis Masterson of BYU. "It may not be as satisfying to eat at night so you eat more to try to get satisfied."

In the study, 15 female participants were shown 360 images of food during two separate sessions while the researchers observed their brain activity using magnetic resonance technology (MRI).

Upon observing high calorie foods, subjects' brains showed increased neural activity, which did not surprise the researchers. The unexpected result, they say, was that brain activity was less reactive to food rewards during the evening than late at night.

The study was published in the journal Brain Imaging and Behavior.

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