Erica LaFata, PhD
Assistant Research Professor
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
- Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Center for Weight and Eating Disorders, Perelman School of Medicine at the University 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
Clinical utility of food addiction as a unique phenotype of disordered eating, the 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.
Please note that LaFata changed her name in 2022 and was formerly published under her prior surname, Schulte.
- 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, Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.23350
- Schulte, E. M., Sonneville, K. R., & Gearhardt, A. N. (2019). Subjective experiences of highly processed food consumption in individuals with food addiction. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 33(2), 144.
- Schulte, E.M., Yokum, S., Jahn, A., & Gearhardt, A. N. (2019). Food cue reactivity in food addiction: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Physiology & Behavior, 208, 112574.
- 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., Smeal, J. K., & Gearhardt, A. N. (2017). Foods are differentially associated with subjective effect report questions of abuse liability. PLoS One, 12(8), e0184220.
- Schulte, E.M., Joyner, M. A., Schiestl, E. T., & Gearhardt, A. N. (2017). Future directions in “food addiction”: Next steps and treatment implications. Current Addiction Reports, 4(2), 165-171.
- Schulte, E.M., Potenza, M. N., & Gearhardt, A. N. (2017). A commentary on the “eating addiction” versus “food addiction” perspectives on addictive-like food consumption. Appetite, 115, 9-15.
- 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.
- Schulte, E.M., Joyner, M. A., Potenza, M. N., Grilo, C. M., & Gearhardt, A. N. (2015). Current considerations regarding food addiction. Current Psychiatry Reports, 17(4), 19.