Brain Stimulation Can Help Treat Anorexia

Posted: Mar 26 2016, 7:12am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

Brain Stimulation Can Help Treat Anorexia
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  • Stimulating the Brain may help Anorexics recover from their Illness

It has been discovered that stimulating the brain may help anorexics recover from their illness.

Brain stimulation may erase some of the symptoms of anorexia nervosa. Anorexia is normally very difficult to treat. Anorexics underwent repetitive transcranial stimulation (rTMS).

This treatment has the full approval of physicians as a cure for depression. Using rTMS, an area of the brain was pinpointed for stimulation that was involved in anorexic regulation.

Magnetic pulses were relayed to the parts of the brain responsible for illness. The stimulation felt like someone was lightly tapping the side of the head.

"With rTMS we targeted ... an area of the brain thought to be involved in some of the self-regulation difficulties associated with anorexia," study first author Jessica McClelland, a postdoctoral researcher at King's College London, said in a school news release.

The activity levels of the neurons in the brain were altered via this stimulation. A single session of brain stimulation had a marked effect on the patients. The drive to cut down on food intake was reduced.

Also satiaty signals and feelings of being too fat were decreased. The prudence center of the brain was affected. Via brain stimulation, the compulsive features of anorexia could be reduced thereby leading to a salubrious cure for the disease.

"We found that one session of [brain stimulation] reduced the urge to restrict food intake, levels of feeling full and levels of feeling fat, as well as encouraging more prudent decision-making.

Taken together, these findings suggest that brain stimulation may reduce symptoms of anorexia by improving cognitive control over compulsive features of the disorder," McClelland said.

The study was published in the journal PloS One. Anorexia effects 4% of women sometime in their life span.

As the illness could take a long time to fix, it becomes firmly established in the neural networks of the brain. Novel brain-related therapies are desperately needed for curing anorexia.

This current finding is a promising avenue for further research. Since the death rate for people with anorexia is 20%, the search for a cure is taking place on an urgent basis.

"Anorexia nervosa is thought to affect up to 4 percent of women in their lifetime. With increasing illness duration, anorexia becomes entrenched in the brain and increasingly difficult to treat. Our preliminary findings support the potential of novel brain-directed treatments for anorexia, which are desperately needed," study senior author Ulrike Schmidt, a professor from Kings College London, said in the news release.

Anorexia nervosa involves the afflicted person’s refusal to eat anything for extended periods of time. The anorexic has a self-image of herself as fat even though from all appearances she is stick thin. Many lose so much weight that they die of starvation unless they are forcefed through a tube.

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