Prof. Klatzkin/Behavioral Neuroscience Lab



 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.


 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. 


 Dr. Klatzkin’s research investigates the complex relationship between eating behaviors and both psychological and physiological responses to mental stress.

As the obesity epidemic continues to grow, it becomes exponentially more important to determine the etiology of obesity and its correlates, such as binge eating. Binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by frequent consumption of large amounts of food in a short period of time and reporting a loss of control over eating. In addition, binges involve eating more rapidly than normal, until uncomfortably full, and feeling depressed, disgusted, or guilty after overeating. Although obesity and binge eating are often co-morbid, obesity is not a diagnostic criterion for BED, and the prevalence rate of BED in individuals seeking weight loss treatment is low. Thus, there is evidence for a clear delineation between obesity and BED and one goal of the Behavioral Neuroscience Lab at Rhodes College is to disentangle these two populations in terms of differences in the psychological and physiological mechanisms underlying stress-induced food consumption.

The physiological evidence explaining the consumption of food post-stress is clear and consistent. Quite simply, the stress hormone cortisol is a direct cause of comfort food intake in both animals and humans. Women with BED show dysregulation in the cortisol, as we all cardiovascular, response to stress, and also report more life stress and perceive that stress to be more significant than controls. Thus, women with BED seem to be more vulnerable to stress-induced eating than obese controls. Given the role of stress to induce food intake, Dr. Klatzkin’s research proposes that dysregulation in the subjective and physiological responses to stress in women with BED may contribute to the mechanisms of stress-induced binge eating in this population.

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