Nancy Lee Zucker

Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge 2000


Our laboratory studies individuals who have difficulty detecting, interpreting, and/or using signals from their body and using this information to guide adaptive behavior, particularly in interpersonal contexts. Our primary populations of study are individuals struggling with eating disorders and feeding disorders of childhood: conditions that are sine quo non for dysregulation of basic motivational drives. Several conditions are of particular focus due to the presence of profound deficits in interoception or/and integration of internal arousal: anorexia nervosa, a disorder notable for extreme, determined, rigid, and repetitive behaviors promoting malnourishment and the inability to use signals of interoception and proprioception in the service of goal-directed actions, pediatric binge eating, a model of appetitive dysregulation marked for its early occurrence in the life cycle, and childhood feeding disorders, children who evidence early disturbance in the range of foodstuffs they are willing to sample. Study of children allows us to ask different questions about disorder etiology, maintenance, and course as we can minimize the impact of malnutrition on brain function and perhaps better characterize prior learning history.

Our parallel line of research examines how individuals’ sense others when they have difficulties sensing themselves. Increasing evidence suggests that we understand others via embodied enactments of our own experiences. These findings have profound implications for individuals who have dysfunction in the experience of their bodies as it suggests limited capacities to truly understand others’ experiences. By studying these processes in parallel, we hope to better understand how this interaction between sensing ourselves and others unfolds.

Zucker, NL, Kragel, PA, Wagner, HR, Keeling, L, Mayer, E, Wang, J, Kang, MS, Merwin, R, Simmons, WK, and LaBar, KS. "The Clinical Significance of Posterior Insular Volume in Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa." Psychosomatic medicine 79.9 (November 2017): 1025-1035. Full Text

Zucker, N, Mauro, C, Craske, M, Wagner, HR, Datta, N, Hopkins, H, Caldwell, K, Kiridly, A, Marsan, S, Maslow, G, Mayer, E, and Egger, H. "Acceptance-based interoceptive exposure for young children with functional abdominal pain." Behaviour research and therapy 97 (October 2017): 200-212. Full Text

Li, D, Zucker, NL, Kragel, PA, Covington, VE, and LaBar, KS. "Adolescent development of insula-dependent interoceptive regulation." Developmental science 20.5 (September 2017). Full Text

Moskovich, AA, Timko, CA, Honeycutt, LK, Zucker, NL, and Merwin, RM. "Change in expressed emotion and treatment outcome in adolescent anorexia nervosa." Eating disorders 25.1 (January 2017): 80-91. Full Text

Zucker, NL, Copeland, W, and Egger, H. "Authors' Response." Pediatrics 137.1 (January 2016). (Letter) Full Text

Matherne, CE, Zucker, N, Bryant, EJ, Sbrocco, T, Mirza, N, and Tanofsky-Kraff, M. "A feasibility study of group caregiver training for the prevention of obesity (GCT-O) in African American preschoolers." Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology 4.3 (2016): 275-290. Full Text

Kerr, KL, Moseman, SE, Avery, JA, Bodurka, J, Zucker, NL, and Simmons, WK. "Altered Insula Activity during Visceral Interoception in Weight-Restored Patients with Anorexia Nervosa." Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 41.2 (January 2016): 521-528. Full Text

Copeland, WE, Bulik, CM, Zucker, N, Wolke, D, Lereya, ST, and Costello, EJ. "Does childhood bullying predict eating disorder symptoms? A prospective, longitudinal analysis." The International journal of eating disorders 48.8 (December 2015): 1141-1149. Full Text

Cravener, TL, Schlechter, H, Loeb, KL, Radnitz, C, Schwartz, M, Zucker, N, Finkelstein, S, Wang, YC, Rolls, BJ, and Keller, KL. "Feeding Strategies Derived from Behavioral Economics and Psychology Can Increase Vegetable Intake in Children as Part of a Home-Based Intervention: Results of a Pilot Study." Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 115.11 (November 2015): 1798-1807. Full Text

Matheson, BE, Camacho, C, Peterson, CB, Rhee, KE, Rydell, SA, Zucker, NL, and Boutelle, KN. "The relationship between parent feeding styles and general parenting with loss of control eating in treatment-seeking overweight and obese children." The International journal of eating disorders 48.7 (November 2015): 1047-1055. Full Text


Sweeney, C, Loeb, KL, Parter, A, Hail, L, Zucker, N, and Zucker, N. "Family-based treatment for prodromal anorexia nervosaEmotional experience and regulation in eating disorders: Theory, evidence, and translational application to family treatment (PublishedPublished)." Family Therapy for Adolescent Eating and Weight Disorders: New Applications. March 27, 2015. 157-176. Full Text

Kass, AE, Wilfley, DE, Eddy, KT, Boutelle, KN, Zucker, N, Peterson, CB, Le Grange, D, Celio-Doyle, A, and Goldschmidt, AB. "Secretive eating among youth with overweight or obesity." July 2017. Full Text

Selected Grants

Maternal obesity, child executive functions and child weight gain awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2015 to 2020

Feelings/Body Investigators:Interoceptive Exposure for Children w/Abdominal Pain awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2019

Defining Remission and Recovery in Eating Disorders awarded by University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2017

Eating Disorders in Type 1 Diabetes: Mechanisms of Comorbidity awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2011 to 2015

Neural Mechanisms of Social Reward Valuation and Decision Making awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2009 to 2014

KAN-DO: A Family-Based Intervention to Prevent Childhood Obesity awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2006 to 2012

Biomarkers of Interoceptive Awareness in Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2009 to 2012

Novel Group Parent Training Program for Anorexia Nervosa awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2005 to 2010

Neurodevelopmental Processes of Social Cognition in Anorexia Nervosa and Autism awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2006 to 2010