Effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on binge eating disorder

Emilee E. Burgess, Maria D. Sylvester, Kathryn E. Morse, Frank R. Amthor, Sylvie Mrug, Kristine L. Lokken, Mary K. Osborn, Taraneh Soleymani, Mary M. Boggiano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate the effect of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on food craving, intake, binge eating desire, and binge eating frequency in individuals with binge eating disorder (BED). Method: N = 30 adults with BED or subthreshold BED received a 20-min 2 milliampere (mA) session of tDCS targeting the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC; anode right/cathode left) and a sham session. Food image ratings assessed food craving, a laboratory eating test assessed food intake, and an electronic diary recorded binge variables. Results: tDCS versus sham decreased craving for sweets, savory proteins, and an all-foods category, with strongest reductions in men (p < 0.05). tDCS also decreased total and preferred food intake by 11 and 17.5%, regardless of sex (p < 0.05), and reduced desire to binge eat in men on the day of real tDCS administration (p < 0.05). The reductions in craving and food intake were predicted by eating less frequently for reward motives, and greater intent to restrict calories, respectively. Discussion: This proof of concept study is the first to find ameliorating effects of tDCS in BED. Stimulation of the right DLPFC suggests that enhanced cognitive control and/or decreased need for reward may be possible functional mechanisms. The results support investigation of repeated tDCS as a safe and noninvasive treatment adjunct for BED.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)930-936
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • BED
  • cognitive control
  • food craving
  • neuromodulation
  • obesity
  • palatable eating motives scale (PEMS)
  • reward
  • sex differences
  • treatments


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on binge eating disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this