Electrical brain stimulation reduces food cravings and calorie intake

In a certain region of our brain -- more precisely, in the lateral, front cerebral cortex -- sits our hunger or appetite center. It is of central importance to the regulation of food intake. One study aimed to find out if food intake could be influenced by electrical stimulation of this region. Previous research had found that direct stimulation of this brain area could reduce the compulsive intake of food, known as food cravings. It was thought that repeated electrical stimulation of the hunger center could reduce food intake in humans.


Study design

In a single-blinded and placebo-controlled randomized crossover study, 14 healthy young men were examined. Their body mass index (kg/m2) ranged between 20 and 25. For 8 days they underwent either a daily electrical stimulation of the right lateral cerebral cortex or a fake stimulation. On the first and last day of either stimulation, the participants were allowed to eat as much as they wanted from a standardized test buffet.


One week after daily brain stimulation, calorie intake was reduced by 14% in comparison with subjects treated by fake stimulation. In addition, the subjects with repeated stimulation of the corresponding brain area reported a decrease in appetite. The results of the study show that direct stimulation of the hunger center is a promising way to reduce calorie intake and appetite at the same time.


Jauch-Chara K, Kistenmacher A, Herzog N, et. al.:

Repetitive electric brain stimulation reduces food intake in humans. First published August 6, 2014, doi: 10.3945/ ajcn. 113.075481, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition October 2014 vol. 100 no. 4 1003-1009

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