Brain stimulation may help treat bulimia
People with eating disorders may be helped by electrical brain stimulation, according to new research.
Brain stimulation may particularly be effective for patients with bulimia nervosa—an eating disorder in which people suffer from a cycle of severe binge eating and purging in order to avoid gaining weight.
In the study, researchers from the University of Toronto examined the effect of brain stimulation on 20 patients with bulimia. The patients received 20 sessions daily for four weeks.
Six patients saw their symptoms disappear almost completely. Twelve patients saw some improvement in their symptoms, and two patients said their symptoms got worse.
In determining the reasons for discrepancies in the patients’ responses to brain stimulation, researchers found that in the brains of people who responded well to brain stimulation, there was relatively low connectivity between the frontal lobe and the brain areas connected to reward and craving. Brain stimulation may have helped to restore that missing connection in the patients’ brains, researchers said.
The findings suggest that brain imaging may help detect certain brain patterns, which could be used to predict which patients are most likely to benefit from brain stimulation, researchers said.