Nancy L. Zucker
  • Nancy L. Zucker

  • Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience
  • Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Rm 3420 Purple Zone Sth, Durham, NC 27710
  • Campus Box 3842 Med Ctr
  • Phone: (919) 668-0075
  • Fax: (919) 681-7347
  • Pager: (919) 970-7545
  • Homepage
  • Overview

    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.
  • Specialties

    • Clinical Psychology
  • Education

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

      • 2006.
      • Zucker, N.L., Marcus, M., & Bulik, C. (2006). A group parent-training program: A novel approach to eating disorder management. Eating and Weight Disorders, 11, 78-83..
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      • SE Mazzeo, NL Zucker, CK Gerke, KS Mitchell and CM Bulik.
      • 2005.
      • Parenting concerns of women with histories of eating disorders..
      • Int J Eat Disord
      • 37 Suppl:
      • S77-S79
      • .
      Publication Description

      The current article reviews the literature on parenting among women with EDs, and outlines the process of developing an intervention addressing their parenting concerns.

      • 2004.
      • Zucker, N.L., Ferriter, C., Best, S., & Brantley, A. (in press). Group Parent Training: A Novel Approach for Eating Disorder Treatment. Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention.

        Varnado-Sullivan, P.J. & Zucker, N. L. (2004). The Body Logic Program for Adolescents: A Treatment Manual for the Prevention of Eating Disorders. Behavior Modification, 28, 854-875.
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      • .
      • LG Womble, DA Williamson, CK Martin, NL Zucker, JM Thaw, R Netemeyer, JC Lovejoy and FL Greenway.
      • 2001.
      • Psychosocial variables associated with binge eating in obese males and females..
      • Int J Eat Disord
      • 30:
      • 217-221
      • .
      Publication Description

      OBJECTIVE: This study tested a psychosocial model of binge eating symptoms in obese men and women. Predictor variables included depression, dietary restraint, self-esteem, weight cycling, history of teasing, body dissatisfaction, and neuroticism. METHOD: Participants (N = 808) completed a packet of self-report questionnaires. RESULTS: Weight cycling, teasing about weight and shape, body dissatisfaction, negative affect, and dietary restraint comprised the best fitting models (original and cross-validation) for binge eating in women and men. These variables explained 61-72% of the variance in symptoms of binge eating in the samples of men and 70% of the variance in the samples of women. Although the male and female models were mostly similar, notable differences between them were found. DISCUSSION: The variables that comprise these etiological models should be considered in the development of prevention programs for obese binge eaters. Longitudinal studies, however, are needed to examine these etiological paths and to test for causal relationships.

      • DA Williamson, LG Womble, NL Zucker, DL Reas, MA White, DC Blouin and F Greenway.
      • 2000.
      • Body image assessment for obesity (BIA-O): development of a new procedure..
      • Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord
      • 24:
      • 1326-1332
      • .
      Publication Description

      OBJECTIVE: A new measure of body image, named the body image assessment for obesity (BIA-O) was developed and tested for reliability and validity in a sample of 1,209 adult men and women. Separate BIA-O procedures were developed for men and women. Current, ideal and reasonable body image estimates of Caucasian and African-American men and women were compared. METHOD: Figural stimuli of males and females were developed for body sizes ranging from very thin to very obese in 18 increments. Participants selected figures that represented estimates of current, ideal and reasonable (a body size that could be maintained over time) body size. Some participants (n=641) also completed two measures of body dissatisfaction in a test of the validity of the BIA-O as a measure of body dissatisfaction. A sample of 77 participants was administered the BIA-O on two occasions to test the test-retest reliability of the BIA-O. RESULTS: The reliability of the BIA-O was supported by test-retest reliability coefficients which ranged from 0.65 to 0.93. Concurrent validity of the discrepancy between current and ideal and current and reasonable body size estimates was supported by positive correlations with two measures of body dissatisfaction. The BIA-O body size estimates of Caucasians and African-Americans, controlled for age and BMI, were compared. As BMI increased, Caucasian men and women were found to select larger current body size estimates in comparison to African-Americans. DISCUSSION: The reliability and validity of the BIA-O were supported. Greater body size dissatisfaction in obese Caucasians, relative to African-Americans of the same size, may be a function of biased estimates of current body size.

      • DL Reas, DA Williamson, CK Martin and NL Zucker.
      • 2000.
      • Duration of illness predicts outcome for bulimia nervosa: a long-term follow-up study..
      • Int J Eat Disord
      • 27:
      • 428-434
      • .
      Publication Description

      OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to investigate long-term outcome and prognosis in a bulimic and subthreshold bulimic sample. METHOD: In a follow-up study, 44 patients diagnosed with bulimia nervosa and subthreshold bulimia nervosa were contacted after an average follow-up period of 9 years. RESULTS: Results revealed that 72.7% (n = 32) of the participants were recovered at the time of follow-up. An investigation of prognostic variables showed that good outcome was associated with a shorter duration of illness, which was defined as the time between onset of symptoms and first treatment intervention. If participants were initially treated within the first few years of the illness, the probability of recovery was above 80%. However, if they were initially treated 15 years or more after the onset of the illness, the probability of recovery fell below 20%. DISCUSSION: This finding suggests that early identification of bulimia nervosa may be a very important factor in preventing a chronic eating disorder.

      • Zucker, N.L., Losh, M., Bulik, C.M., Labar, K.S., Piven, J., & Pelphrey, K.A. (in press). Anorexia Nervosa and Autism Spectrum Disorders: Guided Investigation of Social Cognitive Endophenotypes, Psychological Bulletin..
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