2 women stop binge eating after electric shock: study

2 women stop binge eating after electric shock: study

2 women stop binge eating after electric shock: study

  • The brain implant reduced binge eating in two patients for at least six months.
  • Two women reported that their behavior towards food changed almost without thinking about it.
  • More research is needed, but these early results are promising, the study author said.

Electric shocks to the brain took away cravings in two patients with binge eating disorder for at least six months, a small study says.

Two patients had brain implants to disrupt the part of the brain associated with craving.

They said The New York Times that after the operation they made better food choices without even thinking about it.

The technique must be tested on more patients to make sure it works safely. But it might offer hope for millions of people who struggle with overeating.

I’m no longer a ‘craving person’

study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Medicine in August, it was mainly intended to test whether the device is safe to use.

But the effect on the study subjects was “really impressive and exciting,” said senior study author Casey Halpern, an associate professor of neurosurgery at Penn Medicine. in a press release accompanying the study.

Two patients – Robyn Baldwin, 58, and Lena Tolly, 48 – said they had fewer drinking episodes. The implant seems to have changed their habits for the better, according to The Times.

Baldwin, for example, said she’s gotten used to swinging by Ben & Jerry’s on her way to the drug store. But after the device was activated, she said, “I could walk into the pharmacy and not think about ice cream.”

The implant even seems to have adjusted the women’s food preferences.

Baldwin said she used to crave sweet foods, but now she prefers salty foods. Tolly would sometimes find herself eating peanut butter straight from the jar. Now he no longer longs for it, writes the Times.

“It’s not like I don’t think about food at all,” Baldwin said. “But I’m not a yearning person anymore.”

Obesity needs innovative treatments

Both women, who are obese, said they had previously tried many ways to fight obesity.

Both tried extreme diets and underwent bowel surgery, a procedure called bariatric surgery, according to The Times. But the weight kept coming back.

This is not uncommon for people with obesity. Research suggests obesity is a disease which makes it difficult for patients to maintain weight.

A growing body of research is trying to find such treatments don’t rely on willpower.

The idea of ‚Äč‚Äčtargeting brain waves to combat cravings was appealing, so much so that Elon Musk recently said that his Neuralink brain implant could one day fight morbid obesity.

Previous research suggests that a tiny part of the brain, the hypothalamus, sends brain waves before someone feels a craving.

The implant used in the study learned to recognize those brain waves and activate that region with electricity to reinforce them, which appeared to shorten the cravings.

The study followed the patients for six months. No serious side effects were reported, but each patient lost more than 11 pounds, according to a press release.

One of the patients no longer meets the criteria for having a binge eating disorder, according to the statement.

More research is needed

You will not be able to find this implant in your doctor’s office. With only two patients, scientists cannot prove for sure that the implant caused the weight loss.

It is possible, for example, that there is a placebo effect from the surgery or that the effect wears off over time.

To make sure this is not the case, the researchers will try to do a much larger study. They typically recruit hundreds of patients and have built-in procedures to test the placebo effect.

For now, the study needs to follow Tolly and Baldwin for six months and recruit four more patients.

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