For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

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:

  • Ultra-processed food reward
  • Food addiction as a phenotype of overeating
  • Assessment of addictive-like eating behaviors
  • Treatment development for weight- and eating-related concerns


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:

  • LaFata, E.M., Worwag, K., Derrigo, K., Hessler, C., Allison, K.C., Juarascio, A.S., & Gearhardt, A.N. (in press). Development of the Food Addiction Symptom Inventory: The first clinical interview to assess ultra-processed food addiction. Psychological Assessment.
  • LaFata, E.M., Allison, K.C., Audrain-McGovern, J., & Forman, E.M. (2024). Ultra-processed food addiction: A research update. Current Obesity Reports. Advance online publication.
  • 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.