9 January 2019
Modulation of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) activity using non-invasive brain stimulation has been shown to reduce food craving as well as food consumption. Using a preregistered design, we examined whether bilateral transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) of the DLPFC could reduce food craving and consumption in healthy participants when administered alongside the cognitive target of inhibitory control training. Participants ( N = 172) received either active or sham tDCS (2 mA; anode F4, cathode F3) while completing a food-related Go/No-Go task. State food craving, ad-lib food consumption and response inhibition were evaluated. Compared with sham stimulation, we found no evidence for an effect of active tDCS on any of these outcome measures in a predominantly female sample. Our findings raise doubts about the effectiveness of single-session tDCS on food craving and consumption. Consideration of individual differences, improvements in tDCS protocols and multi-session testing are discussed.