Nadia Micali's Group

«RAINBOW» Study: Reward and anxiety in the brain

 The aim of this project is to examine the neural correlates of reward anticipation, and anxiety in eating disorders (ED) using high density electroencephalography (EEG).

Anxiety disorders may represent risk factors for the development of ED, and neural imbalance between reward processing and inhibition is a clinical feature of ED.

In this project,

  1. our primary aim is to identify whether neural correlates of reward anticipation, and anxiety differ in ED vs. controls;
  2. our secondary aim  is to examine the relationship between neural correlates of reward anticipation, anxiety and active symptomatology in ED.

To investigate how anxiety interacts with rewards anticipation, participants are assessed using a monetary reward incentive task, which has been proven to be useful in the investigation of anxiety and reward processing. Inhibitory control is also evaluated using a task assessing cognitive flexibility, and activity of the brain at rest during eye-closed.  

High density EEG represents a challenging tool to achieve new insights regarding brain function development. It combines the advantages of conventional scalp EEG (i.e. optimal temporal resolution), with the description of the sources in the brain by applying sophisticated mathematical models.

This project combines expertise in ED, early life stress and clinical neuroscience. Understanding the relationships between anxiety and reward sensitivity may reveal further insight in our understanding of ED, which may have implications for early diagnosis and intervention in eating disorders.