If Electroshock Therapy Could Stop Your Binge Eating, Would You Do It?

Illustration for article titled If Electroshock Therapy Could Stop Your Binge Eating, Would You Do It?

We've read about a number of extreme weight-loss measures lately: form an elective feeding tube to an intragastric weight-loss balloon, seemingly nothing is to drastic for those desperate to lose weight.


Where do we draw the line?

A team of research scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have authored a new study that proposes implanting an electrode in the nucleus accumbens, the region of the brain known to be disregulated in rodents and humans who binge eat. The electrode is connected by wires to an external neurostimulator—much like a pacemaker—which, when switched on, triggered the electrode to deliver a continuous electrical pulse to the brain.


The researchers implanted the device in the brains of a group of lab mice. They found that when the device was off, the mice ate what would be qualified as a binge (more than 25% of their daily caloric intake during as single feeding period). However, when the electrode device was switched on and administering deep brain stimulation, the same mice consumed on average 60% less of their standard high-fat diet.

"By regulating various nerve cell receptors with medications they discovered that the stimulation probably worked by affecting the type 2 dopamine receptor," the Daily Mail reports.

The U Penn findings were presented over the weekend at The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston, TX.

You can't see it, but I'm throwing my arms up in the air. [DailyMail - Image via Kletr/Shutterstock]


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Dr.Nemmo and his time-travelling submarine

This is not Electroshock Therapy by any means. ECT implies making the whole brain go into seizure - it's the difference between a heart pacemaker and ventricular defibrillation.

Edit: sorry, I don't want to sound pedantic. Deep Brain Stimulation pacemakers have been studied during the last ten years and they show promising results for depression and other disorders and they use way lower voltages than ECT. They have been shown to have fewer side effects - but they need brain surgery to be properly installed.