Preventing binge eating with deep brain stimulation

Preventing binge eating with deep brain stimulation
Preventing binge eating with deep brain stimulation

The urges or cravings experienced by people with food addiction and uncontrolled binge eating can be suppressed with the help of deep brain stimulation (DBS), according to the pilot study published in Nature Medicine. Two patients who were severely obese took part in the study.

In the ‘obesity study’, responsive deep brain stimulation (DBS) was used in them to monitor the electrophysiology of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) just before a binge eating. Previous research in mice has already shown that an increased low-frequency oscillating power in the NAc9 precedes a binge eating. Stimulating the nucleus accumbens (NAc) with electric shocks reduced that activity, and the binge eating, in the mice studied.

Suppress binge eating with DBS

During the test period, which lasted six months, the delivery of electronic shocks was determined by the activity of the nucleus accumbens (NAc). During the test period, the two subjects showed an improvement in self-control of food intake and weight loss. Thanks to the brain stimulation, the urge to eat could be suppressed. As a result, the two patients ate less and even lost weight.

The scientists realize this test, with two patients, does not yet provide definitive evidence that DBS can cure eating disorders. This requires research with a larger group of patients, including a control group.

More self-regulation with DBS

During the pilot study, the scientists started to identify the changes in NAc electrophysiology associated with moments of food craving and LOC (loss of control) eating. Subsequently, rDBS was implemented in the two subjects, activated by NAc electrophysiology in behavioral and naturalistic assessments.

During the stimulation phase, both subjects reported an increased sense of self-regulation and control over food intake specific to food cravings and the associated eating behaviors. In addition, both subjects also reported a decrease in the reported frequency of LOC eating events.

Deep brain stimulation is a method that has been considered and researched in recent years for the treatment of more and more diseases. For example, the Amsterdam UMC is investigating the possibility of using DBS in the treatment of chronic depression. In addition, the added value of DBS in Parkinson’s patients has been studied several times, with good results.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Preventing binge eating deep brain stimulation

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