Feeding is dynamically regulated by the palatability of the food source and the physiological needs of the animal. How consumption is controlled by external sensory cues and internal metabolic state remains under intense investigation. Here, we identify four GABAergic interneurons in the Drosophila brain that establish a central feeding threshold which is required to inhibit consumption. Inactivation of these cells results in indiscriminate and excessive intake of all compounds, independent of taste quality or nutritional state. Conversely, acute activation of these neurons suppresses consumption of water and nutrients. The output from these neurons is required to gate activity in motor neurons that control meal initiation and consumption. Thus, our study reveals a layer of inhibitory control in feeding circuits that is required to suppress a latent state of unrestricted and nonselective consumption.
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