Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2023

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Basic Biomedical Science

First Advisor

Dr. Lee Baugh, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Dr. Taylor Bosch, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Dr. Arun Singh, Ph.D.


Neuromodulation, Cravings, Eating Disorders, TMS, tDCS, SNP

Subject Categories

Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Mental Disorders | Neurosciences | Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases


Obesity and eating disorders are highly prevalent in the United States. People who suffer from obesity and/or eating disorders face serious health consequences and even death. Current treatments are not effective as recovery rates are low, so there is a dire need for an effective treatment for obesity and eating disorders. There have been studies investigating the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) as a means of treatment for these people. While findings show promise, there is much variability. The goal of this study is to further prior work by evaluating the ability of tDCS and TMS to modulate food cravings and impulsivity. Additionally, genetic factors will be analyzed for their use in predicting neuromodulation efficacy. For this study, we recruited a total of 30 participants who were assigned to either the tDCS group (n=15) or the TMS group (n=15). Each participant came in for a total of three visits where they completed a series of questionnaires, underwent sham or active neuromodulation, completed a food preference task, impulsivity task, and had blood drawn. Preliminary results demonstrate that tDCS and TMS can reduce wanting to eat in general. The reduction in wanting to eat may be through modifications of feelings of lack of control. More specifically, neuromodulation can selectively decrease the appeal of high calorie foods through activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Further, analyzing genetic factors can help predict who will respond best to neuromodulation.

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