Deep brain stimulation

Can deep brain stimulation help severe anorexia?

Dr Rebecca Park is Consultant Psychiatrist at Cotswold House and Associate Professor at University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry.  Her research group are piloting Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) as a novel treatment for severe enduring Anorexia Nervosa.

This is the first UK registered study of this, in collaboration with Professor Tipu Aziz, pioneering Oxford Neurosurgeon.  It includes investigation of the important ethical issues involved.

Canadian studies of DBS for severe Anorexia – using a different brain target – suggest it can be helpful in some, but not all individuals, allowing them to improve when everything else has failed to help.  Our DBS study is an experimental treatment, with no guarantee of benefit, and has full ethical approval.

DBS is a reversible, adjustable, non-destructive intervention that involves implanting fine wires to target specific brain areas.  Using this surgically-implanted medical device like a ‘brain pacemaker’, carefully controlled electrical pulses are delivered to the precisely targeted brain area, stimulating them in a controlled manner.  DBS has been used for over 20 years to help severe Parkinson disease, and more recently has been used for movement disorders in adults and children and chronic pain.

Based on her prior research, her group chose to target specific reward centres in the brain.  This DBS target has been shown to help severe OCD and addictions, which share some features with Anorexia Nervosa.  This study aims to explore the acceptability and feasibility of using DBS to treat Anorexia Nervosa and will also map the neural mechanisms underpinning reward.  Her groip are also investigating the ethical aspects of this procedure in depth.

Cotswold house is one participating centre , and the study is  currently recruiting individuals who have had Anorexia NervosaN longer than 7 years who want to recover.  Please contact or for more details.

Page last reviewed: 17 August, 2017