Nancy Lee Zucker

Nancy Lee Zucker

Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

External Address: 
905 W. Main Street, Suite 22B Brightleaf Square, Durham, NC 27701
Internal Office Address: 
Box 3454 Med Ctr, Durham, NC 27710
Office Hours:


Our laboratory studies individuals who have difficulty detecting, interpreting, and/or using signals from their body and using this information to guide adaptive behavior.  We explore how disruptions in these capacities contribute to psychosomatic disorders such as functional abdominal pain or anorexia nervosa and how the adaptive development of these capacities helps individuals to know themselves, trust themselves, and flourish.

Our primary populations of study are individuals struggling with eating disorders and feeding disorders of childhood: conditions that are sine quo non for dysregulation of basic motivational drives or conditions in which disruption in these processes may be more likely: such as the presence of pediatric pain. Several conditions are of particular focus due to the presence of profound deficits in interoception or/and integration of internal arousal: anorexia nervosa, a disorder notable for extreme, determined, rigid, and repetitive behaviors promoting malnourishment and the inability to use signals of interoception and proprioception in the service of goal-directed actions, Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), children with "sensory superpowers" who may be hypersensitive to somatic signals and external sensory features; and pediatric functional abdominal pain, children who may become afraid of their bodies' messages due to generalization of fear of pain to innocuous sensations. Study of children allows us to ask different questions about disorder etiology, maintenance, and course as we can minimize the impact of malnutrition on brain function and perhaps better characterize prior learning history. What we most passionate about is using this conceptualization to design and test novel treatments that enable individuals across the lifespan to feel safe in their bodies and to achieve this in a way that is fun.

Our parallel line of research examines how individuals’ sense others when they have difficulties sensing themselves. Increasing evidence suggests that we understand others via embodied enactments of our own experiences. These findings have profound implications for individuals who have dysfunction in the experience of their bodies as it suggests limited capacities to truly understand others’ experiences. By studying these processes in parallel, we hope to better understand how this interaction between sensing ourselves and others unfolds.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge 2000

Selected Grants

KAN-DO: A Family-Based Intervention to Prevent Childhood Obesity awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2006 to 2012

Biomarkers of Interoceptive Awareness in Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2009 to 2012

Novel Group Parent Training Program for Anorexia Nervosa awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2005 to 2010

Neurodevelopmental Processes of Social Cognition in Anorexia Nervosa and Autism awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2006 to 2010

A Linux Cluster Computational Facility for Neuroimaging Research awarded by National Institutes of Health (Major User). 2009 to 2010


Zickgraf, Hana F., et al. “Rigidity and Sensory Sensitivity: Independent Contributions to Selective Eating in Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults.J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol, Mar. 2020, pp. 1–13. Pubmed, doi:10.1080/15374416.2020.1738236. Full Text

Surwit, Richard S., et al. “Erratum. Hostility, race, and glucose metabolism in nondiabetic individuals. Diabetes Care 2002;25:835-839.Diabetes Care, vol. 43, no. 3, Mar. 2020, p. 691. Pubmed, doi:10.2337/dc20-er03. Full Text

Wallace, G. L., et al. “Increased emotional eating behaviors in children with autism: Sex differences and links with dietary variety.” Autism, Jan. 2020. Scopus, doi:10.1177/1362361320942087. Full Text

Amoroso, C. R., et al. “Disgust Theory Through the Lens of Psychiatric Medicine.” Clinical Psychological Science, vol. 8, no. 1, Jan. 2020, pp. 3–24. Scopus, doi:10.1177/2167702619863769. Full Text

Bardone-Cone, Anna M., et al. “Eating disorder recovery in men: A pilot study.Int J Eat Disord, vol. 52, no. 12, Dec. 2019, pp. 1370–79. Pubmed, doi:10.1002/eat.23153. Full Text

Carpenter, Kimberly L. H., et al. “Sensory Over-Responsivity: An Early Risk Factor for Anxiety and Behavioral Challenges in Young Children.J Abnorm Child Psychol, vol. 47, no. 6, June 2019, pp. 1075–88. Pubmed, doi:10.1007/s10802-018-0502-y. Full Text

Harris, Adrianne A., et al. “The central role of disgust in disorders of food avoidance.Int J Eat Disord, vol. 52, no. 5, May 2019, pp. 543–53. Pubmed, doi:10.1002/eat.23047. Full Text

Katzman, Debra K., et al. “Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder: First do no harm.Int J Eat Disord, vol. 52, no. 4, Apr. 2019, pp. 459–61. Pubmed, doi:10.1002/eat.23021. Full Text

Eddy, Kamryn T., et al. “Radcliffe ARFID Workgroup: Toward operationalization of research diagnostic criteria and directions for the field.Int J Eat Disord, vol. 52, no. 4, Apr. 2019, pp. 361–66. Pubmed, doi:10.1002/eat.23042. Full Text

Zucker, Nancy L., et al. “Feeling and body investigators (FBI): ARFID division-An acceptance-based interoceptive exposure treatment for children with ARFID.Int J Eat Disord, vol. 52, no. 4, Apr. 2019, pp. 466–72. Pubmed, doi:10.1002/eat.22996. Full Text