HealthDay News — Electrical stimulation of the brain may temporarily ease the symptoms of bulimia nervosa, according to research published in PLOS ONE.

The study included 2 men and 37 women with bulimia who underwent 20-minute sessions of transcranial direct current stimulation to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. There was also one sham session where the electrode stimulation lasted only 30 seconds. Participants then reported their desire to binge eat, fear of weight gain, general mood, and frequency of bulimic behaviors in the 24 hours following treatment.

The researchers noted that all patients reported a reduction in bulimia symptoms during the 24 hours after undergoing transcranial direct current stimulation.

“The current research provides preliminary evidence that bilateral transcranial direct current stimulation to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex has the potential to induce therapeutic effects in bulimia nervosa, at least temporarily. It also elucidates possible mechanisms of action and informs the design of future trials,” the authors wrote. “While only modest conclusions can be drawn regarding the clinical utility of transcranial direct current stimulation in bulimia nervosa, our findings offer support and justification for studies involving multi-session protocols.”


Kekic M, Mcclelland J, Bartholdy S, et al. Single-session transcranial direct current stimulation temporarily improves symptoms, mood, and self-regulatory control in bulimia nervosa: A randomised controlled trial. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(1):e0167606. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0167606