Transcranial direct current stimulation of the prefrontal cortex modulates the desire for specific foods.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Appetite, Volume 51, Issue 1, p.34-41 (2008)


Adolescent, Adult, Affect, Analysis of Variance, Cross-Over Studies, Cues, Double-Blind Method, Electric Stimulation, Electric Stimulation Therapy, Feeding and Eating Disorders, Female, Food Preferences, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Prefrontal Cortex


<p>We aimed to assess whether modulation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLFPC) with noninvasive brain stimulation, namely transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), modifies food craving in healthy subjects. We performed a randomized sham-controlled cross-over study in which 23 subjects received sham and active tDCS (anode left/cathode right and anode right/cathode left) of the DLPFC. Subjects were exposed to food and also watched a movie of food associated with strong craving. Desire for food consumption was evaluated by visual analogue scales (VAS) and food consumption before and after treatment. In addition we measured visual attention to food using an eye tracking system. Craving for viewed foods as indexed by VAS was reduced by anode right/cathode left tDCS. After sham stimulation, exposure to real food or food-related movie increased craving; whereas after anode left/cathode right tDCS, the food-related stimuli did not increase craving levels, as revealed by the VAS scale. Moreover, compared with sham stimulation, subjects fixated food-related pictures less frequently after anode right/cathode left tDCS and consumed less food after both active stimulation conditions. These changes were not related to mood changes after any type of tDCS treatment. The effects of tDCS on food craving might be related to a modulation of neural circuits associated with reward and decision-making.</p>

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