for females ages 13-17 (full criteria)
Healthy Volunteers
healthy people welcome
at San Diego, California
study started
completion around
Principal Investigator
by Christina Wierenga, PhD
Headshot of Christina Wierenga
Christina Wierenga



The proposed study of adolescents with anorexia nervosa (AN) will examine the association of behavioral differences in constructs of decision making, brain structure and connectivity, and eating disorder (ED) symptoms. This study tests the novel hypothesis that goal-directed and habit learning for reward and punishment is altered in AN and is uniquely associated with divergent symptoms and differences in corticostriatal connectivity and microstructural integrity. We will recruit 78 females currently ill with AN and 26 controls ages 13-17 to investigate how goal-directed and habit learning for reward and punishment correspond to 1) clinical symptoms collected via interviews, self-report assessments, and ecological momentary assessment (EMA), and 2) brain structure and connectivity in the resting state. Data collection will rely on a technology called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).


Anorexia Nervosa, Anorexia


You can join if…

Open to females ages 13-17

AN Group:

  • Between the ages of 13 and 17 years old
  • Meet DSM-V criteria for AN-R or AN-BP
  • Medically stable per American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society of Adolescent Medicine requirements, at least 75% adjusted ideal body weight, but still symptomatic as assessed by the Eating Disorders Examination and clinical report
  • Be at least 75% of adjusted ideal body weight

Healthy Control Group:

  • Between the ages of 13 and 17 years old

You CAN'T join if...

All Groups:

  • Psychotic illness/other mental illness requiring hospitalization
  • Current dependence on drugs or alcohol defined by DSM IV criteria. Additionally, positive test results for drug use on the day of the scan, apart of marijuana, will result in cancelling or rescheduling the scan because acute use will impact MRI measures.
  • Physical conditions (e.g. diabetes mellitus, pregnancy) known to influence eating or weight
  • Neurological disorder, neurodevelopmental disorder, or history of head injury with >30 min loss of consciousness
  • Any contraindication to undergoing an MRI
  • Primary obsessive compulsive disorder or primary major depressive disorder

Additional Exclusion Criteria for AN Group:

  • If taking other psychotropic medication, any change in dosage in the 2 weeks before scanning

Additional Exclusion Criteria for Healthy Control Group:

  • Meet or met criteria for the diagnosis of any psychiatric disorder in their lifetime
  • Any history of binge eating or purging behaviors, including self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic misuse
  • Use of any psychoactive or other medication known to affect mood or concentration in the last 3 months
  • Have maintained 90% to 120% ideal body weight since menarche


  • University of California, San Diego
    San Diego California 92121 United States

Lead Scientist at UCSD

  • Christina Wierenga, PhD
    Christina Wierenga, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine. She is a Fellow of the Division of Clinical Neuropsychology (Division 40) of the American Psychological Association (APA) and is a Fellow of the Academy of Eating Disorders. She is also the Co-Director of the Psychology Internship Training Program at UCSD/VASDHS.


in progress, not accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Diego
Study Type
Expecting 78 study participants
Last Updated