Influence of rewards and punishment on behaviour in eating disorders

Posted 17/06/2017

What is the purpose of the research?

There is a growing interest in psychiatry surrounding how the ways that we process rewards and punishments can influence how humans behave. However, little is known about how the influence of rewards processing on behaviour differ in psychiatric disorders, such as eating disorders, and what their effects are on the maintenance and treatment of illness. Our team aims to gain a better understanding of these behavioural processes to provide insight into the types of differences that might determine how well individuals with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder respond to various types of treatment and predict who is at risk of relapse.

Our tests will use simple computer tasks to assess innate behavioural responses in individuals with and without eating disorders. We are interested in seeing how differences in these innate responses relate to eating disorder symptoms and whether they may predict outcomes.

Who can take part?

We are looking for female participants over 18 years old, fluent in English, with either:

  • A current diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa or Binge Eating Disorder
  • No past or present diagnosis of any psychiatric or neurological illness

What does the study involve?

If you are interested in taking part, a researcher will send you further information about the study. If you are still interested in participating, the researcher will conduct a brief telephone eligibility check with you. If you are eligible to participate, the researcher will schedule a time and date for you to come in to complete your study session.

The study session will last approximately 1 – 1.5 hours. During this session, the researcher will explain the study to you, and you will be given the opportunity to ask questions. If you are happy to continue, you will be asked to sign two copies of a consent form (one for you to keep). You will then be asked to complete a series of questionnaires and computerised tasks. One of the questionnaires will ask about your lowest and highest ever weight as an adult, however this is not compulsory to complete should you wish not. On the day of testing, you will be asked to have your height and weight measured by our researcher. Whilst this is compulsory, you will be asked beforehand whether you wish to be informed of your measurements or not.

We are offering £10 as a token of thanks, which will be paid to you at the end of your participation. There is also the opportunity to win more money in the computer tasks. We will reimburse you for any travel expenses incurred on proof of receipt (up to £5).

How can you take part?

If you are interested in participating, or would like further information, please contact Samantha Rennalls by email samantha.rennalls@kcl.ac.uk or telephone 07927 969 624. Full details will be available on the participant information sheet that you will be sent if you respond to this advertisement. Please note that contacting us does not mean you have to take part in the study.