Dr. Rebecca Klatzkin: Behavioral Neuroscience Lab

Dr. Klatzkin’s research program broadly investigates stress-related psychopathology in women. Specifically, the current goal of the Behavioral Neuroscience Research Lab is to understand the psychological and physiological factors contributing to stress-induced eating.

Stress is associated with a myriad of negative physical and mental health consequences, including obesity and eating disorders. Understanding the psychophysiological mechanisms driving the stress-eating relationship is critical in order to strengthen prevention and treatment efforts for at-risk individuals; yet the mechanisms by which stress impacts eating are not fully understood.

The hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis is a central component in the regulation stress-induced eating, releasing cortisol in response to stress and, consequently, increasing food consumption. However, cortisol has also been associated with eating less following stress and, although the majority of women tend to be stress over-eaters, many decrease their food intake following stress. These conflicting findings indicate that various individual difference factors interact with the acute stress response to impact food consumption. The Behavioral Neuroscience Research Lab is dedicated to understanding how the psychophysiological mechanisms underlying stress-induced eating depend on various individual differences such as obesity, binge eating, cortisol stress reactivity, and chronic stress.

Examples of publications from this research include:

Klatzkin, R.R., *Baldassaro, A., *Hayden, E. (submitted). Chronic stress alters the psychophysiological mechanisms underlying acute stress-induced eating in women. Journal of Psychosomatic Research.

Klatzkin, R.R., *Baldassaro, A., *Rashid, S. (revised and resubmitted). The impact of chronic stress on the acute stress-induced drive to eat in college women. Eating Behaviors.

Klatzkin, R.R., *Gaffney, S., *Cyrus, K., *Bigus, E., Brownley, K.A. (2016). Stress-induced eating in women with binge eating disorder and obesity. Biological Psychology. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2016.11.002.

*Roberts, M.H., Klatzkin, R.R., Mechlin, B. (2015). Social support attenuates physiological stress responses and experimental pain sensitivity to cold pressor pain. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 49: 557-569. doi: 10.1007/s12160-015-9686-3.

Klatzkin, R.R., *Gaffney, S., *Cyrus, K., *Bigus, E., Brownley, K.A. (2015). Binge eating disorder and obesity: Preliminary evidence for distinct cardiovascular and psychological phenotypes. Physiology & Behavior, 142: 20-27. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.01.018.

Learn more about Dr. Klatzkin here


A student in front of a poster presenting research
Ellery Hayden (‘18) presenting her research on chronic stress and acute stress-induced eating at the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior meeting in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in July 2017.
Students in front of a poster presenting research
Allie Baldassaro ’17, Saniya Rashid ’17, and Caroline Sumner ’16 presenting their research on stress and the drive to eat at the American Psychosomatic Society Meeting in Denver, CO in March 2016.
Male student in lab coat interviewing a research participant
As a member of the Behavioral Neuroscience research team, Matthew Roberts ’14 interviews a participant for his Neuroscience Honors Thesis investigating pain and stress perception.
Professor with three female students presenting research on a poster board
Dr. Klatzkin with Sierra Gaffney ’15, Liz Bigus ’14, and Kathryn Cyrus ’15 presenting their research at the 2013 American Psychosomatic Society Meeting in Miami, FL.
Male student presenting a research poster
Matthew Roberts ’14 presenting his poster on the stress- and pain-reducing effects of social support at the 2014 American Psychosomatic Society meeting in San Francisco, CA.