Neurobiological and Psychological Maintenance Mechanisms Associated with Anticipatory Reward in Bulimia Nervosa

Carol B Peterson, Ann F Haynos, Bryon A Mueller, Ross D Crosby, Stephen A Wonderlich, Lisa M Anderson, Carolyn M Pearson, Molly Fennig, Erin Gallagher, Kathryn R Cullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this investigation is to identify the anticipatory reward mechanisms that maintain binge eating and purging in bulimia nervosa. Emerging data indicate the importance of reward and anticipatory processes as maintenance mechanisms of bulimia nervosa that can be targeted in treatment. The proposed research will identify neurobiological and psychological anticipatory mechanisms of binge eating and purging using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and ecological momentary assessment (EMA) in the natural environment. In this investigation, 60 adults (30 with bulimia nervosa and 30 matched comparison participants) will undergo negative and positive mood inductions followed by an fMRI food selection task (and a comparison shopping task) to examine neurobiological and affective responses to food and non-food reward anticipation. Participants with bulimia nervosa will complete two weeks of EMA examining real-time affect changes in relation to the anticipation of binge eating and purging. These methods will facilitate rigorous assessment of the links between neurobiological (fMRI) and naturalistic (EMA) data in anticipatory reward processes. Findings from this investigation will inform the conceptualization and treatment of bulimia nervosa by identifying the role of reward anticipation in symptom maintenance, providing a crucial framework for targeting these anticipatory processes in existing and novel interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of psychiatry and brain science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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