(HealthDay News) – Non-invasive deep brain stimulation can reduce bingeing and purging in patients with anorexia and bulimia, which correlates with changes in connectivity in particular parts of the brain, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, held from Nov. 9–13 in San Diego.

Jonathan Downar, MD, PhD, from the University of Toronto, and colleagues treated 20 patients with treatment refractory anorexia and bulimia nervosa to 20 sessions of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation to the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, a key brain region involved in impulse control and behavior regulation.

After four weeks, the researchers observed a reduction in bingeing and purging as well as a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety. Treatment response was significantly correlated with reduced bilateral ventral striatum connectivity to the precuneus and posterior cingulate cortex, as well as reduced dorsomedial prefrontal cortex connectivity to the frontopolar cortex. In contrast, changes in subgenual cortex connectivity were not correlated with clinical response.

“This preliminary study showed altered connectivity in midbrain serotonergic structures and corticostriatal and corticocortical pathways previously implicated in emotion regulation and in the pathophysiology of disordered eating behavior,” Downar and colleagues conclude.

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