Neural Response to Food Stimuli: fMRI Changes Following Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Binge Eating Disorder

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University of Pennsylvania




Overweight and Obesity
Binge Eating Disorder


Behavioral: Cognitive behavioral therapy
Behavioral: Waitlist

Study type


Funder types



5K23NR017209-03 (U.S. NIH Grant/Contract)

Details and patient eligibility


The purpose of this research is to conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) assessing the impact of CBT on neural responses to binge eating stimuli.

Full description

Females with a BMI>/=25 kg/m2 and BED will be randomized to either a 16-week, one-on-one CBT intervention (n=20) or a waitlist control (WL; n=20). Both groups will have blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans at baseline and after the 16-week intervention. During the scans, participants will complete the following tasks: 1) food-specific stop signal task (SST), and 2) script-driven imagery of binge foods.


40 patients




18 to 45 years old


Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  1. Women who meet the DSM-5 criteria for BED as diagnosed by the Eating Disorder Examination Interview

  2. Ages 18 to 45 years of age

  3. BMI >/=25 kg/m2

  4. Premenopausal

  5. Able to provide informed consent

  6. Right-handed

  7. Eligible female patients will be:

    • Non-pregnant, evidenced by a negative urine dipstick pregnancy test
    • Non-lactating
    • Surgically sterile or postmenopausal, or they will agree to continue to use an accepted method of birth control during the study
  8. Understand and be willing to comply with all study-related procedures and agree to participate in the study by giving written informed consent

Exclusion criteria

  1. Weight > 158.8 kg (350 lbs, due to scanner weight restrictions)
  2. Supine abdominal width (with arms folded above) > 70 cm or sagittal diameter > 50 cm (due to scanner dimension restrictions)
  3. Pregnant or nursing (or plans to become pregnant in the next 5 months)
  4. Evidence of psychiatric disorder that significantly interferes with daily living
  5. Active suicidal ideation
  6. Type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes or A1C > 6.5%
  7. Use of weight loss medications or other agents known to affect body weight (e.g., oral glucocorticoids, second-generation antipsychotic medications) in the past 3 months
  8. Psychiatric hospitalization within the past 6 months
  9. Self-reported alcohol or substance abuse within the past 12 months, including at-risk drinking (current consumption of ≥ 14 alcoholic drinks per week)
  10. Self-reported use of illicit drugs within the past 30 days
  11. Presence or history of orthopedic circumstances, metallic inserts, pacemaker, claustrophobia, or other conditions that may interfere with magnetic resonance imaging
  12. Loss of ≥ 10 lb of body weight within the past 3 months
  13. History of (or plans for) bariatric surgery
  14. Visual, auditory, or other impairment that would affect task performance
  15. Epilepsy or other brain injury
  16. Participation in individual psychotherapy for BED in the prior 3 months
  17. Inability to attend treatment and lack of capacity to provide informed consent
  18. Any serious or unstable medical or psychological condition that, in the opinion of the investigator, would compromise the patient's safety or successful participation in the study

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


None (Open label)

40 participants in 2 patient groups

Cognitive behavioral therapy
Experimental group
16-week cognitive behavioral therapy intervention for binge eating disorder
Behavioral: Cognitive behavioral therapy
Waitlist control
Other group
16-weeks on waitlist then participants will be provided with 16-weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy
Behavioral: Waitlist

Trial documents

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from

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