Scientists zap morbidly obese people’s brains to get them to stop overeating

Clinical trials have began on six morbidly obese people who have volunteered to test out a new brain chip that zaps their brain when they think about overeating.

Known as a responsive neurostimulation system (RNS), the chip was developed by medical technology company NeuroPace and was intended to treat people who suffer with epilepsy.

Once the chip is implanted in the brain, it tracks brain activity, monitoring the way it works constantly.

Image via U.S. Army Photo

The chip then gives the user a mild electric shock when it detects a certain pattern that occurs prior to the onset of a seizure.

Published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a recent study showed that same technique could be sued to halt binge-eating patterns. In tests done on mice – it revealed that there was potential to halt habitual or uncontrolled behavior.

Allegedly, Stanford University scientists are now searching to find out if it could work on human who have what is known as “loss-of-control eating.”

The trial is set to take place over the next five years or so and will see the six test subjects who have the chip implanted in their brain for about 18 months at a time.

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This chip will monitor brain activity for six months, then turn on the stimulation, which in this case is food.

It will then attempt to look for a pattern of activity in the brain that signals the beginning of a food binge.

Researchers will try and determine if the implant itself is feasible as well as safe and then attempt to measure how effective it is.

That being said, developers are quick to reveal that is not a procedure folks will be using if they want to lose a small amount of weight.

Only those with a BMI of over 45 and who have not lost weight from gastric bypass surgery or cognitive behavioral therapy will be eligible.

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“These are patients who are essentially dying of their obesity,” Standord’s Dr. Casey Halpern revealed to Elemental:

Additional trials have been attempted using a similar approach called deep brain stimulation or DBS to attempt and treat obesity.

The previous tests looked at mainly the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus which controls the hormone levels that determine feelings of hunger, satiety as well as metabolism.