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WELL Center Assistant Research Professor Erica Schulte

Erica LaFata, PhD

Assistant Research Professor
WELL Center
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Office: Stratton Hall 233

Additional Sites:

CV (Live)


  • Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Center for Weight and Eating Disorders, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
  • PhD, Clinical Psychology, University of Michigan
  • Pre-doctoral Clinical Internship, Medical University of South Carolina
  • MS, Psychology, University of Michigan
  • BS, Psychology, University of Kansas

Curriculum Vitae:

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests:

  • Clinical utility of food addiction as a unique phenotype of disordered eating
  • Addictive potentials of ultra-processed foods
  • Overlapping mechanisms implicated in substance-use disorders and eating and weight disorders
  • Assessment of addictive-like eating behaviors
  • Treatment development for eating and weight disorders


Erica LaFata's program of research applies a cutting-edge perspective to understanding overeating and obesity by examining 1) which foods or food attributes (e.g., sugar) may be reinforcing in a manner that directly drives overeating, 2) whether core mechanisms of addictive disorders (e.g., withdrawal) may contribute to eating-related problems for vulnerable individuals, and 3) how food addiction may be a useful construct for individualized interventions. LaFata has investigated these empirical questions using a multi-method approach, including neuroimaging, scale development, food consumption paradigms, and self-report.

LaFata earned her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan and a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship with the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed a predoctoral internship at the Medical University of South Carolina and received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Kansas.


Selected Publications:

  • Derrigo, K. & LaFata, E.M. (2023). Examining the proportions of food addiction among women with and without polycystic ovarian syndrome who do and do not take hormonal birth control. Eating Behaviors, 51, 101824.
  • LaFata, E.M. & Gearhardt, A.N. (2022). Ultra-processed food addiction: An epidemic? Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 91, 363-372.
  • LaFata, E.M. (2022). A commentary on the progress towards recognizing food addiction as a psychological diagnosis. Current Addiction Reports, 9, 251-254.
  • Gearhardt, A.N. & Schulte, E.M. (2021). Is food addictive? A review of the science. Annual Review of Nutrition, 41, 11.1–11.24.
  • Schulte, E.M., Wadden, T.A., & Allison, K.A. (2020). An evaluation of food addiction as a distinct psychiatric disorder. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 53(10), 1610-1622.
  • Schulte, E.M., Smeal, J.K. Lewis, J., & Gearhardt, A.N. (2018). Development of the Highly Processed Food Withdrawal Scale. Appetite, 131, 148-154.
  • Schulte, E.M. & Gearhardt, A.N. (2017). Development of the modified Yale Food Addiction Scale Version 2.0. European Eating Disorders Review, 25(4), 302-308.
  • Schulte, E.M., Grilo, C.M., & Gearhardt, A.N. (2016). Shared and unique mechanisms underlying binge eating disorder and addictive disorders. Clinical Psychology Review, 44, 125-139.
  • Schulte, E.M., Avena, N.M., & Gearhardt, A.N. (2015). Which foods may be addictive? The roles of processing, fat content, and glycemic load. PloS One, 10(2), e0117959.

  • *Please note that LaFata changed her name in 2022 and was formerly published under her prior surname, Schulte.