Experimental brain implant zaps patients, quells food cravings, helps with binge eating
An experimental surgery in which a small device was implanted into two patients' brains have reportedly curbed the urge to binge eat.
According to a report from the scientific journal Nature Medicine, two California women who were diagnosed with a binge-eating disorder, underwent surgery after several treatments failed to mend their cravings.
In the first of it’s kind procedure, surgeons implanted a small device under the scalp of the patients which wired directly to the section of the brain known for regulating satisfaction and reward. The device sends an electrical jolt to the region which scientists say effectively lowers the craving for food.
The device is able to monitor and detect brain activity that is linked to cravings associated with binge eating. In order for the device to work, the patients wave a type of wand over their head to activate the device whenever they feel the urge to binge eat. This signals the device to send the zap to the brain.
According to the Nature Medicine report, six months after the patients had the devices turned on, they felt more control over their cravings.
"I am fully aware of my cravings," Robyn Baldwin, 58, one of the patients, told NBC News. "Sometimes, I can just stop, take a breath, and say, 'Nope.'"
Longer-term data is expected to be published at a later date to determine the long-term impacts of the device.
It still remains to be seen whether a device like this can be a practical application to most people who suffer from a similar eating disorder.