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University of Leipzig: Neuro-feedback can curb binge eating

Leipzig behavioral health specialist presents study results on “binge eating”.

Leipzig, December 14, 2023. Special brainwave-controlled feedback exercises (“Neuro Feedback”) help against binge eating (new German: “binge eating”), in which already overweight people stuff themselves with large amounts of food in a completely uncontrolled manner. The gluttons have to use their minds to reduce images of food on computer screens and thereby train certain brain regions. A team led by behavioral medicine specialist Prof. Anja Hilbert from the University of Leipzig discovered this through experiments.

Loss of control while eating

Background: Some people lose control over what and how much they eat. Being overweight is often the result of this mental illness. “The loss of control leads to psychological suffering,” explains Anja Hilbert. “Those affected find it more difficult than others to control their eating impulses. Self-regulation is impaired.”

Brain signals visualized via EEG or infrared

In order to develop a treatment for this, they prescribed twelve one-hour sessions of neurofeedback to selected patients within two months. For this feedback technique, they used electroencephalography (EEG) or, alternatively, “functional near-infrared spectroscopy” (fNIRS) to measure the subjects’ brain waves without external intervention. The patients were then able to use these visualized brain signals to control how big, for example, chocolate or other foods appeared on screens. They should train certain brain regions that are responsible for eating control.

Six months later, craving control improved

The effects became apparent six months after the end of therapy: From then on, the test subjects were more able to resist certain treats when they saw them. Both EEG and fNIRS neurofeedback improved eating control. “The participants’ cravings, anxiety and body mass index were also more improved after both neurofeedback therapies than in the patients on the waiting list.” The researchers interpret the time lag between therapy and effect as “a delayed effect after brain training.” .

Complement rather than replacement for psychotherapy

However, the procedure is unlikely to displace the psychotherapy previously used in such cases. “From a clinical perspective, the smaller effects compared to psychotherapy speak in favor of the accompanying rather than sole use of food-specific neurofeedback in the treatment of binge eating disorder, for example during cognitive behavioral therapy,” says Professor Hilbert.

Source: Oiger from December 14.12.2023, XNUMX

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