Noninvasive Neuromodulation of the Prefrontal Cortex in Subjects With Obesity

2016-11-03 08:08:21 | BioPortfolio


The overall goal of this proposal is to evaluate the efficacy of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a noninvasive neuromodulation technique, to facilitate weight loss and weight loss maintenance in obesity. This is a novel clinical research study that examines the therapeutic potential of an innovative biomedical treatment for weight loss maintenance.


The hypothesis is that tDCS will successfully engage prefrontal-related neurobehavioral cognitive control systems, resulting in decreased eating disinhibition and therefore facilitation of weight loss and weight loss maintenance. To test this hypothesis, a 6-month randomized, sham-controlled, double-blind, intervention study was designed. Subjects will undergo an intervention with the following components/phases:

1. Phase 1 - Target engagement (one session) The purpose of this phase is to examine whether tDCS can reach the brain target, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and influence performance in a neuropsychology tests that depends on the activity of this region. Results from this component of the study will provide evidence for target engagement. Genomic DNA will be extracted from whole blood for sequencing of Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) polymorphism genotypes.

2. Phase 2 - tDCS alone (two weeks) During this phase participants will receive daily tDCS sessions over the course of two weeks (Monday to Friday; total=10 sessions). The purpose of this phase is to examine the effect of modulating the activity of the prefrontal cortex with tDCS on body weight under baseline/weight stable conditions. Also analyse changes in appetite and eating behavior.

3. Phase 3 - tDCS plus hypocaloric diet (two weeks). During this phase participants will undergo a hypocaloric diet intervention aimed at achieving a 5% body weight reduction at 3 months. The diet will be individualized on the basis of physical activity levels, age for each participant. This intervention will be be conducted at an inpatient, well-controlled setting to guarantee adherence to the diet. Here the diet intervention will be administered in combination with tDCS. tDCS will be applied every other day (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) over the course of these two weeks. The purpose of this component is to examine acute changes in weight associated with tDCS in combination with the diet. Also analyse changes in appetite and eating behavior.

4. Phase 4 - Follow up (6 months). During this phase (outpatient) changes in body weight over time will be assessed to evaluate weight maintenance. Subjects will be asked to come back to the laboratory at 1, 3 and 6 months. Also analyse changes in appetite and eating behavior.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Investigator), Primary Purpose: Treatment




Active transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), Hypocaloric diet, Sham transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)


Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University
United States


Not yet recruiting


University of Sao Paulo

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2016-11-03T08:08:21-0400

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