Project THINK: Trajectories of Health Ingestive Behaviors and Neurocognition in Kids

  • End date
    Dec 9, 2025
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    The Miriam Hospital
Updated on 9 August 2021
eating disorder


Overweight/obesity and loss of control eating (characterized by the sense that one cannot control what or how much one is eating) are prevalent among children and adolescents, and both are associated with serious medical and psychosocial health complications. Although our recently published data suggest that youth with these conditions may have relative deficits in neurocognitive functioning, particularly working memory, understanding of how these processes and their neural correlates are related to change and stability in eating and weight-related outcomes over time is limited, thereby impeding development of targeted, optimally timed interventions. The present study aims to assess prospective associations between general and food-specific executive functioning and underlying neural substrates, and eating and weight outcomes among children at varying levels of risk overweight/obesity and eating disorders, which will help guide research efforts towards the development of effective prevention and intervention strategies.


The current study will examine prospective associations among general and food-specific EF and related neural substrates, and the developmental course of weight gain and LOC eating from middle childhood through early adolescence. Specific aims are to:

  1. Investigate prospective associations between general and food-specific EF and z-BMI trajectories. We expect that across risk groups, a) poorer baseline performance on both general and food-specific behavioral EF measures will predict steeper z-BMI gain trajectories; and b) worsening general and food-specific EF will track with the steepest z-BMI gain trajectories.
  2. Investigate associations between general and food-specific EF and LOC eating trajectories. We expect that across risk groups, a) poorer baseline performance on general and food-specific behavioral EF measures will predict worsening course of LOC eating; and b) worsening general and food-specific EF will track with worsening course of LOC eating.
  3. Investigate prospective associations between EF neural substrates and trajectories of z-BMI and LOC eating. We expect that across risk groups, a) greater activation in prefrontal regions associated with EF (e.g., dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, dorsal cingulate, parietal cortex) during general and food-specific WM tasks, and b) smaller decreases in activation of these regions over 18 months, will predict steeper z-BMI gain trajectories and worsening course of LOC eating.

Condition Obesity, Binge eating, Childhood Obesity, Pediatric Obesity, Binge Eating Disorder, obesity in children, binges
Treatment Observational (not including MRI scanning), Observational (including MRI scanning)
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04701671
SponsorThe Miriam Hospital
Last Modified on9 August 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Not currently taking any medications known to affect weight or appetite
Free of any current or past medical or psychiatric conditions known to significantly affect eating or weight (e.g., diabetes, bulimia nervosa), with the exception of binge eating disorder
In the low average range or higher on measures of general intellectual functioning
Free of any conditions affecting executive functioning (e.g., recent concussion, history of traumatic brain injury)
Fluent in English, and able to read and comprehend study materials
Not currently pregnant
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