Lucas Dwiel on binge eating (E05)


You’ve found the page with resources from our interview with Lucas Dwiel.

Deep Brain Stimulation

Lucas Dwiel’s work focuses on how to use deep brain stimulation (DBS) to correct brain circuits that can lead to maladaptive, or unhealthy, behaviors. His research uses binge eating as the main disease of study, but as he discussed in the interview, this can be applied very broadly to other illnesses. Figure 1 shows a traditional set-up for DBS to treat Parkinson’s disease in a patient.

Figure 1: Patient with electrode for DBS to treat Parkinson’s disease.

You can see in the image the electrode goes quite deep into the brain. Additionally, notice the battery pack implanted on the chest, which Lucas mentioned has to be replaced when the battery dies. Hopefully his work will allow for more specific use of the electrode to preserve battery life. Below is a video showing the dramatic effects DBS can have in a Parkinson’s patient.

Although Lucas uses this technique, he does not target the same brain region that is targeted in Parkinson’s patients. He uses this technique to target the nucleus accumbens, seen in the image below.

Nucleus Accumbens.jpg
Figure 2: 3-D brain representation of internal brain structures.

In Figure 2 the eyes would be in front of the left part of the brain in the image and the right part of the brain in the image would be the back of the head. You can see the length of the nucleus accumbens, which Lucas mentioned. Part of his work is to determine which parts of this brain region are the best for treating appetitive disorders, like binge eating. The nucleus accumbens is part of the reward circuit in the brain and treatments, like those Lucas is working to develop, may be useful for the treatment of other addictive or appetitive behaviors.

Please post questions or comments on our comment page. If you would like to ask Lucas anything directly, email us at

Thank you for listening!