Nav: Home

Low levels of brain stimulation with electrodes may temporarily lessen bulimia symptoms

January 25, 2017

A 20-minute session of transcranial direct current stimulation transiently improves the symptoms of bulimia nervosa sufferers, according to a study published January 25, 2017, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Maria Kekic from King's College London, UK, and colleagues.

Bulimia nervosa is a mental health condition and is linked with changes in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is involved with reward processing and self-regulatory control. While cognitive behavioral therapy is the gold standard for bulimia treatment, as many as half of all bulimia patients who undergo it will still relapse into their eating disorders.

The authors of the present study conducted a small proof-of-principle study of brain stimulation, carrying out a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial of 39 bulimic adults (2 males and 37 females). They used electrodes in different configurations to carry out low-amplitude, direct current, transcranial stimulation of the participants' dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in three 20-minute sessions, including one sham session where the electrodes where the stimulation lasted only 30 seconds. Participants then self-reported their desire to binge eat, fear of weight gain, general mood, and frequency of bulimic behaviors in the 24 hours following treatment.

The researchers found that the treatment compared to the sham was effective in lessening bulimia symptoms, at least immediately following the study. It also appeared that the optimal orientation of the electrodes was to have the anode on the right and the cathode on the left side of participants' heads.

The study did not exclude individuals with co-occurring mental disorders and the outcomes were self-reported. Nonetheless, the authors state that this is the first investigation of transcranial direct current stimulation for bulimia. Future multi-session trials could examine how long the effects lasted, and help determine the treatment's potential as a therapy for bulimia nervosa.

Maria Kekic says: "Although these are modest, early findings, there is a clear improvement in symptoms and decision-making abilities following just one session of tDCS. With a larger sample and multiple sessions of treatment over a longer period of time, it is likely that the effects would be even stronger. This is something we're now looking to explore in future studies."
In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available paper:

Citation: Kekic M, McClelland J, Bartholdy S, Boysen E, Musiat P, Dalton B, et al. (2017) Single-Session Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Temporarily Improves Symptoms, Mood, and Self-Regulatory Control in Bulimia Nervosa: A Randomised Controlled Trial. PLoS ONE 12(1): e0167606. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0167606

Funding: This research was funded by a Medical Research Council/Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience Excellence studentship, awarded to Maria Kekic in 2012. Ulrike Schmidt, Iain Campbell, and Anthony David receive salary support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Mental Health Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. Open access for this article was funded by King's College London. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Related Brain Stimulation Articles:

Enhancing memory network via brain stimulation
Magnetic stimulation of the posterior parietal cortex increases functional connectivity of a neural network implicated in memory, shows human research published in eNeuro.
How can ultrasonic brain stimulation cure brain diseases?
IBS scientists found a calcium channel expressed in astrocytes in the brain to be a highly sensitive target for LILFU-induced neuronal activity in the motor cortex, such as tail movement.
Deep brain stimulation for refractory severe tinnitus
Researchers investigated the safety and efficacy of deep brain stimulation in the treatment of refractory severe tinnitus in a small group of patients.
Take a break! Brain stimulation improves motor learning
In a joint study, Jost-Julian Rumpf from the University of Leipzig and Gesa Hartwigsen from MPI CBS suggest the process of motor learning probably already begins during short interruptions of practice.
Brain stimulation for PTSD patients
University of Houston assistant professor of electrical engineering Rose T.
Deep brain stimulation modifies memory
Deep brain stimulation of the cingulate cortex worsens memory recall, according to research in epilepsy patients published in JNeurosci.
Brain stimulation enhances motivation to work for food
Electrical stimulation of the brain through the vagus nerve increases the motivations to work for food, according to recent findings of a research group at the University of Tübingen.
Does stimulation of the brain's dorsal anterior insula trigger ecstasy?
The epileptic 'aura' is a subjective phenomenon that sometimes precedes the visible clinical features of a seizure.
How electrical stimulation reorganizes the brain
Recordings of neural activity during therapeutic stimulation can be used to predict subsequent changes in brain connectivity, according to a study of epilepsy patients published in JNeurosci.
Brain stimulation speeds up visual learning and recovery
A combination of visual training and a recently developed brain stimulation technique boosts learning in healthy adults and cortically blind patients, according to research published in JNeurosci.
More Brain Stimulation News and Brain Stimulation Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.