Lose weight: electric shocks in the brain against food cravings

Lose weight: electric shocks in the brain against food cravings

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Do electric shocks help you lose weight?

Researchers have developed a computer chip that could protect people from being overweight and obese in the future. The chip causes an electric shock to those affected if they consume large amounts of food in an uncontrolled manner.

In the current investigation by Stanford University, a chip was used which is implanted in the brain and gives the patient an electric shock if they experience an attack of cravings. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences".

Chip is actually used in epilepsy

Six morbidly obese people are taking part in the study to test a new chip that will give their brains an electric shock if they overeat. The chip known as the Responsive Neurostimulation System (RNS) is actually supposed to help treat people with epilepsy. Once implanted in the brain, it tracks the activity of the brain and continuously monitors its functioning. As soon as the chip recognizes a certain pattern that occurs before the onset of a seizure, it sends out a slight electric shock. This should stop the attack before it even begins, the researchers explain.

Does the chip work even with cravings?

Research has shown that the same technique could be used to stop cravings. Tests on mice showed that habitual or uncontrolled behavior could possibly be prevented by using a chip. Researchers have now tried to find out whether such a chip also has a similar effect on people who lose control of their food. For the current study, which is to take place over the next five years, the chip will be implanted in the brain of six test subjects for about 18 months. The chip monitors brain activity for six months and then turns on stimulation. An attempt is then made to determine the activity pattern in the brain which signals the beginning of a craving for food.

Only obese people can participate in the study

The researchers point out that this method is not used in people who only want to lose some weight. Only people with a body mass index (BMI) over 45 who have not lost weight through gastric bypass surgery or cognitive behavior therapy are eligible to participate in the study. These are particularly patients whose obesity is life-threatening, the researchers explain. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Hemmings Wu, Kai J. Miller, Zack Blumenfeld, Nolan R. Williams, Vinod K. Ravikumar et al .: Closing the loop on impulsivity via nucleus accumbens delta-band activity in mice and man, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (query : 15.08.2019), PNAS

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