German researchers discovered an intriguing connection between electricity and obesity.
Your Brain On Juice
Please, after reading this, don’t hook a 9 volt battery to your head. It is a bit more complicated.
Researchers from Lübeck in Germany took a group of volunteers and for eight days stimulated their brains’ dorsolateral prefrontal cortex with electricity.
That region of the brain plays an important role in regulating appetite and eating.
A second group only got a mock set up (the electricity is so low you can’t tell if current flows) and afterwards both groups got free reign over a buffet.
The guys who got the real electric stimulation ate 14% less and also reported reduced appetite.
What About Obese Subjects?
I can only guess how those researchers got the idea to try this.
Was it one morning over coffee? “Peter, my electric shaver gave me a shock today and my hunger was gone!” “You may be on to something. Let’s get some
students desperate for better grades volunteers together and try this!”
Seriously, if it helps people lose weight as much as the more boring traditional way remains to be seen, as the test subjects were of normal weight. The researchers need to repeat the whole setup with obese people and check if it influences their weight.
“Some Wavy Lines”
It is amazing what you can influence when stimulating the prefrontal cortex. From improving memory (PDF) to treating depression. If there wasn’t the pesky question of safety (PDF). The brain is complex enough that pinpointing what you apply current to is a bit a game of “let’s hope for the best and see what happens.”
I was reminded me of this scene from one of my favorite movies:
Looking at the trajectory of the poor sod’s gum, Dr. Venkman failed at researching ESP, but may have been at the cutting edge of obesity research!