Brain Stimulation to Treat Anorexia

By: Katie Lehan

Article Summary

Author: Traci Pedersen

Source: Psych Central

Publication Date: March 25, 2016

This article discusses a study that was conducted to test a new non-invasive brain treatment that is thought to help decrease the occurrence of symptoms associated with anorexia nervosa. The treatment is called transcranial stimulation (rTMS), which “targets the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain thought to be involved in some of the self-regulation difficulties associated with anorexia” (qtd. in Pedersen). The purpose of the study was to do a before and after treatment comparison of the anorexic symptoms as well as decision making abilities between participants receiving a real rTMS treatment versus the ones receiving a placebo, or fake treatment (decision making abilities was a factor because anorexic individuals tend to be more impulsive). The researchers found no change in the symptoms and decision making of those who received the placebo. However, in the participants that underwent the real treatment, “One session of rTMS reduced the urge to restrict food intake, levels of feeling full, and levels of feeling fat, as well as encouraging more prudent decision-making” (qtd. in Pedersen). Due to the positive outcomes of the clinical trial, those who conducted the study are researching further to determine if multiple sessions of the rTMS treatment will prove to have a long-lasting effect on those with anorexia nervosa.

Article Critique

The author of this article, Traci Pederson, is listed as a “professional writer.” She is not a registered dietitian (RD) nor is she a nutrition professional with an advanced degree, which at first glance may hinder the validity of the piece. However, Pedersen’s article is essentially a summary of a study that was conducted by Dr. Jessica McClelland, a “Post-doctoral Researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London” (Pedersen). Although McClelland is not an RD or a nutrition professional, the nature of this article is focused more on treatment of anorexia nervosa rather than the nutritional aspects of the psychological disease. Therefore, McClelland’s PhD credential is enough to validate her research as well as Pederson’s article. The article’s source, Psych Central, is not a government agency, volunteer association, consumer group, professional organization, or academic journal, nor does it claim to be and it does not list a sponsor, which again, can decrease the validity of the piece. It does, however, claim to be scientifically reviewed, including the name of the person who reviewed it and their credentials. One of the strongest contributors to the validity of this article is that it is based on scientific evidence. As mentioned above, Pedersen summarizes an article that was written by an individual with a PhD who was qualified to coordinate a research study and draw conclusions from it. Pedersen also does not provide any information that is not supported by citations from the original source, and even provides a link to McClelland’s study. In addition, the article is very well written: concise and straightforward, allowing the reader to clearly understand the conclusions drawn from the study. Overall, there were a few aspects of the article that diminished its validity such as the author and the source. Nonetheless, for a piece that provides scientific evidence obtained from a study that was conducted by professionals, it is a fairly credible source that is readily available to the public.


Pedersen, T. (2016). Brain Stimulation Improves Symptoms of Anorexia. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 1, 2016, from