Student Research - Author: Nicole Williams

Advisor: Paul Neuman

Graded Exposure as an Adaptation Procedure in Activity-Based Anorexia

Activity-based anorexia is behavior characterized by high levels of activity, low levels of food consumption, and extreme weight loss. The first experiment examined weight loss, physical activity, and food consumption during a typical activity-based anorexia procedure, defined as food access for one hour per day and access to a running wheel for the remaining 23 hours. A control group also was used. The second experiment was a fading procedure designed to interrupt the typical effect. Different groups of rats were used for each of the two experiments and the control group. Baseline always involved free access to food, water, and a locked running wheel for 24 hours daily. The first experiment demonstrated that weight loss occurred during the typical activity-based anorexia condition and that weight gain occurred when those conditions were terminated. Additionally, recovery time, which has previously not been reported, was found to range between one and six days following weight loss. The second experiment demonstrated that the use of a fading procedure was successful in gradually adapting rats’ food consumption and physical activity to the changes in those variables so that weights stabilized even during the typical activity-based anorexia procedure.