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Dealing with feelings: the neural bases of emotional processing and regulation in Bulimia Nervosa


This project aims to explore emotional processing and regulation in individuals with Bulimia Nervosa (BN) with a view to better understand its underlying causes. Previous research suggests that eating disorders may be linked to difficulties with emotions and impulse control. Most research so far has used self-report, but this method is questionable in population who have difficulties identifying and describing their emotions. This project is the first to use electroencephalography (EEG) as an objective method to measure and disentangle emotional processing and regulation in females with BN. A combination of three tasks and questionnaires will be used to measure various aspects of an emotional response and its link to impulsive behaviours in individuals with BN (N=35) and healthy controls (N=35). This study has the potential to inform future treatment for these individuals.


Dr Laura Vuillier, Bournemouth University

Dr Amy Harrison, UCL

Dr Matthew Somerville, UCL

What is the purpose of the research?

We are conducting research at Bournemouth University to look at what is happening in the brain while people feel emotional. It seems that some people find it more difficult than others to regulate their feelings when they are happy or upset. Here, we will look at what is happening in the brain of people with and without bulimia nervosa to see if they process emotions in a similar way. This could help develop better treatment for individuals with eating disorders.

Who can take part?

Anyone who is female with a current diagnosis of Bulimia Nervosa, between the age of 18 and 40, fluent in English, and without known suicidal ideation can take part. We also recommend that you are local to the Bournemouth area because part of the study takes place at Bournemouth University. While we compensate you for your time (£35), we cannot pay extra for travel cost.

What does the study involve?

This experiment will take about 3 hours to complete. You will be asked to fill in an online survey (on questions about your eating behaviours and your emotions, among other) and then come to Bournemouth University for an EEG (electroencephalography) experiment to see your brain activity (you will look a bit like the woman in the picture below).

How can someone take part?

Please contact Laura Vuillier ( if you want to take part or need more information about the study.