Effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on binge eating disorder.

Academic Article


  • OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on food craving, intake, binge eating desire, and binge eating frequency in individuals with binge eating disorder (BED). METHOD: N = 30 adults with BED or subthreshold BED received a 20-min 2 milliampere (mA) session of tDCS targeting the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC; anode right/cathode left) and a sham session. Food image ratings assessed food craving, a laboratory eating test assessed food intake, and an electronic diary recorded binge variables. RESULTS: tDCS versus sham decreased craving for sweets, savory proteins, and an all-foods category, with strongest reductions in men (p < 0.05). tDCS also decreased total and preferred food intake by 11 and 17.5%, regardless of sex (p < 0.05), and reduced desire to binge eat in men on the day of real tDCS administration (p < 0.05). The reductions in craving and food intake were predicted by eating less frequently for reward motives, and greater intent to restrict calories, respectively. DISCUSSION: This proof of concept study is the first to find ameliorating effects of tDCS in BED. Stimulation of the right DLPFC suggests that enhanced cognitive control and/or decreased need for reward may be possible functional mechanisms. The results support investigation of repeated tDCS as a safe and noninvasive treatment adjunct for BED. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.(Int J Eat Disord 2016; 49:930-936).
  • Keywords

  • BED, DLPFC, cognitive control, food craving, neuromodulation, obesity, palatable eating motives scale (PEMS), reward, sex differences, treatments, Adult, Analysis of Variance, Binge-Eating Disorder, Body Mass Index, Craving, Eating, Energy Intake, Female, Food, Humans, Male, Prefrontal Cortex, Surveys and Questionnaires, Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Burgess EE; Sylvester MD; Morse KE; Amthor FR; Mrug S; Lokken KL; Osborn MK; Soleymani T; Boggiano MM
  • Start Page

  • 930
  • End Page

  • 936
  • Volume

  • 49
  • Issue

  • 10