Brain stimulation for getting leaner.
The brain stem is a really unique part of the nervous system! It’s plops in between the brain and the spinal cord, where it picks up and processes information flowing in both directions between the brain and the body.
A pretty cool feature is that the brainstem connects to 10 (out of the 12) ‘Cranial Nerves’ that don’t travel down into the body through the spinal cord. They actually make their own well defined and individual paths to their end points. Given that these paths offer a direct route to the brainstem, it’s no surprise that for many years, scientists have been sending small electrical currents into the nerves to generate all sorts of wonderful outcomes.
As crazy as this might first sound, the actual concept of activating Cranial Nerves has been around for the good part of the last century – intestinally Cranial Nerve 8 was one of the first nerves ever studied in this way. (Cranial Nerve 8 just happens to be the very cornerstone of my research at UCSD.)
Jump forward to about 30 years ago and a brilliant discovery was made around Cranial Nerve 10… It can be used to treat epilepsy… and what’s better… it actually works even if stimulation is delivered quite far away from the brain. So no need for risky deep brain surgery. Typically, stimulators to treat epilepsy (which are a bit like pacemakers) connect at the bottom of the neck and send the signals upwards.
Why doesn’t someone invent an electronic brain stimulator to treat obesity?
Well actually, that’s been around for a few years now!!
Again using Cranial Nerve 10, electrical signalling can be used in the treatment for obesity. And this time the impulse is delivered even further along nerve 10… right in the abdomen. So if you are based in the USA, have a BMI of above 40 and have a spare $20,000+ in the back pocket, then all you really you need to do is 1) Get this surgically implanted & 2) Kickback and chillax while it does it’s thing!
So that’s it then!? What more could you ask for…
As I said earlier.. there are 10 cranial nerves that connect to the brainstem. So far only 1 has been properly tested for the purposes of weight loss. My research at UCSD just happens to be on Cranial Nerve 8.. and not only that… I research how it alters metabolism, changes appetite and can cause the body to reduce the amount of fat that is stored.
The biggest advantage is that Cranial Nerve 8 stimulation doesn’t require any surgery. That’s right – it’s completely non invasive. We can activate it using little electrode pads stuck on skin behind your ears.
So instead of risky surgery and $20k… how does a little headset that you wear for a few hours a week sound??
I’ll repeat that again…
A headset that stimulates your brain for weight loss…
Sounds unbelievable!? Nope! It’s 100% correct..
Stay tuned for more info.
Dr Jason McKeown
In a previous life I was a doctor - now I make medical devices.
A lover of all things health and fitness, particularly if linked to neurology, neurophysiology or anything brain related.
Mostly, I write about the neuroscience of weight loss, but occasionally I just give little snippets into my busy life.
I travel a lot. If not in Belfast I’m usually in San Diego. Happy to connect with anyone who is keen to improve their health & wellness!