Oxford Brain-Body Research into Eating Disorders
- +44 (0) 1865 618299 (fax +44 (0) 1865 793101)
Founded in 2010
Novel integrative approach of clinical- neuroscience collaborations
Funding from HEFCE, MRC , Sir Jules Thorne Charitable Trust, Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust , Swiss Anorexia Foundation
We work to understand the cognitive, biological, emotional and somatic processes underpinning the severe eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa in particular, and Eating Disorders in general. Our trans-disciplinary research, involving clinicians and neuroscientists, aims to translate research findings into novel treatment strategies.
Our work focuses on Anorexia Nervosa. This severe eating disorder has the highest mortality of any psychiatric disorder and remains one of the most challenging to treat and recover from, with a paucity of evidence based treatments. To develop more effective treatments we need a better understanding of processes underpinning the illness.
I think perfectionism combined with over-analysing is quite a deadly combination.…. Now I am better, I feel I am dwelling in my body, perhaps for the first time in my adult experience.Quotes from individuals with Anorexia Nervosa
We are proud of the innovative way our research brings together cognitive science, neuroscience and experimental psychology. This integration helps generate a deeper understanding of how cognitive, emotional and bodily processes interact to maintain the illness.
In collaboration with world-class neuroscientists our work investigates brain processes underpinning thinking, feeling and experiencing reward, and how these differ for people with Anorexia Nervosa. Recent research has focused on the role of ruminative thought processes and abnormal reward processing. We translate research findings into developing new forms of treatment and relapse prevention.
An MRC ‘Confidence in Concept Award’ (PI Rebecca Park) , in collaboration with Professor Tipu Aziz, Nuffield Department of Surgery and Professor Catherine Harmer in Neurosciences allowed us to initiate two complimentary studies 1. A multimodal imaging study of neural processing and reward in individuals with current and past Anorexia Nervosa, and 2 . A pilot intervention study of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) targeted at neural reward centres, for individuals with severe enduring Anorexia Nervosa. These studies explore the neural processing and behavioural correlates of aberrant reward and habit formation in Anorexia Nervosa . The findings contribute to develop knowledge of neural processes underpinning Anorexia Nervosa and in tandem develop novel treatment strategies. With the aid of additional grants and generous charitable donations we continue the DBS study, which has full HRA approval. We have now published the protocol and an important ethics gold standard to guide such studies worldwide.
With an international reputation in the field of Eating Disorders, we have made important advances in understanding the neurobiology of Anorexia Nervosa using functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI and MEG. These findings not only help us to better understand the disorder but enable us to push forward with research that is directly relevant to the development of new treatments.
OxBREaD benefits from affiliations with HBA well established groups within the Department of Psychiatry:
Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, OHBA
Wellcome Centre for ethics and humanities : Professor Ilina Singh
CREDO1: Professor Chris Fairburn’s research group is world leading in the development of treatments for Eating Disorders.
PERL: Professors Catherine Harmer's group has an international reputation for excellence in the field of neuroscience and neuroimaging.
For more information on eating disorders and finding help go to the beat website.
Interested in helping eating disorder research?
Do join our research interested list if you have any personal experience of an eating disorder, currently or in the past; or if you would be keen to participate in research studies on eating disorders. Please contact us if you want to know more about our work, and we will then send you information about current research studies and opportunities to get involved.
For more information or to register:
Oxford Research Interested List for Anorexia Nervosa (ORLA)
Or contact us:
Oxford Brain-Body Research in Eating Disorders (OxBREaD)
Department of Psychiatry
Telephone: 01865 618318
- We would like to draw your attention to the change in our contact number: please contact 01865 618318 with any enquiries.
- Do check out our new papers in the 'key publications' section of this page!
We are deeply grateful for the recent donations from the family and friends of the late Emma Bruce. We never met Emma but she had suffered from Anorexia for many years, and not long before she died, she was given hope after hearing about the work of OxBREaD.
Click here to go to their JustGiving page.
- Professor Phil Cowen (Neurosciences, Oxford University)
- Professor Catherine Harmer (Neurosciences, Oxford University)
- Professor Kia Nobre (OHBA, Oxford University)
- Professor Tipu Aziz (Department of Neurosurgery, Oxford University),
- Dr Jacinta Tan, Psychiatrist and ethicist, (University of Swansea)
- Dr Sanne de Witt (University of Amsterdam),
- Dr Claire Gillan (Trinity College Dublin)
Current research studies
Eating Concerns and Compulsivity
We are looking for people that fit into one of three groups: healthy people who have been recovered from anorexia nervosa for over a year, those who think a lot about their eating, weight and shape, and healthy controls, to participate in a psychological study. You should be a healthy female aged between 18 and 45 years. We are looking for women who do not have any current health or psychiatric problems. We will be asking you to do some questionnaires and complete two computer tasks, which measure behaviour thought to be related to compulsivity. Compulsivity is repetitively performing actions which aren’t rewarding or good for you. We will also non-invasively measure your pupils during one of the tasks.
If you are interested in participating in this study we’d like to hear from you! Feel free to ask questions – showing interest doesn’t commit you to anything! You will be compensated for your time if you decide to take part. You can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01865 618318 for more information. This study is run in the University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry.
How women with and without eating disorders perceive bodies
We are recruiting female participants aged 16 – 45 years old, with a current diagnosis of an eating disorder to take part in a study of how women perceive bodies.
The study, led by Dr Helen Bould, involves one session, 1.5-2 hours long, at the Department of Psychiatry in Headington. You would complete a structured interview to see whether you have an eating disorder, and some computer tasks relating to how you see and feel about your own and others’ bodies. The study also involves being weighed and having your height measured – it will be up to you whether you are told your weight and height or not.
You will be reimbursed for your time with a shopping voucher for £20. The study has been reviewed and approved by the CUREC ethics committee. If you are interested in participating, you can visit the website (https://trialspark.com/trials/oxbodystudy) to see the participant information sheet and, if you wish, complete the screening questionnaire to see if you are eligible. Please note that if you are 16 or 17, we will need to speak to your parent or guardian to seek their consent to you participating.
If you have any questions you can call or email (email@example.com; 01865 223931).