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).
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    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