Current Projects

Neuroscience of food decision-making in youth

The objective of this project is to improve our knowledge of youth decision-making, an important but significantly under-studied area. We will determine the computational and neural mechanisms underlying decision-making processes in youth using synergistic expertise from diverse disciplines. This collaborative project includes experts and ideas from clinical psychology, pediatrics, neuropsychology, engineering, and cognitive neuroscience.

Bariatric Weight-Loss Vs. Diet Weight-Loss

We are examining the effects of bariatric surgery (laparoscopic-banding) on brain functioning using fMRI in comparison to a behavioral weight- loss intervention. It is a follow-up study to Bruce et al., in press, SOARD. The findings from this research may improve our understanding of successful long-term weight loss and open additional avenues for new behavioral and pharmacological weight loss. The research is supported in part by a Frontiers Clinical and Translational Sciences Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Neuroeconomics of Controversial Food Technologies

In collaboration with agricultural economists, this research project is examining consumer responses to various types of controversial food technologies (e.g. genetically modified foods) using experimental economics, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), questionnaires, and neuropsychological tests. The study is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Pediatric fMRI Logo Study

This research project is examining children’s familiarity, association, and relationships to culturally familiar food and nonfood logos. We are also using functional MRI to examine obese and healthy weight children’s brain activations to food and nonfood brand logos (McDonald’s, Nike). We are also collecting behavioral data including self-report measures of impulsivity and the ability to delay gratification. This research is supported by UMKC and a clinical pilot grant from KUMC’s Research Institute.