Nicole Giuliani focuses her research on emotion, self-regulation, health behaviors and family dynamics in relationship to the decisions people make about the foods they eat. She uses multiple methods, including neuroimaging, to explore for the basic brain processes and mechanisms that are tied to emotion and self-regulation. She is a member of the Health Promotion and Obesity Prevention Initiative. Prior to joining the UO faculty, Giuliani was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology.
Areas of Expertise (7)
Giuliani NR, Berkman ET
Giuliani NR, Tomiyama AJ, Mann T, Berkman ET
Research on eating relies on various indices (e.g., stable, momentary, neural) to accurately reflect food-related reactivity (e.g., disinhibition) and regulation (e.g., restraint) outside the laboratory. The degree to which they differentially predict real-world consumption remains unclear. Further, the predictive validity of these indices might vary depending on whether an individual is actively restricting intake.
Giuliani NR, Mann T, Tomiyama AJ, Berkman ET
Craving of unhealthy food is a common target of self-regulation, but the neural systems underlying this process are understudied. In this study, participants used cognitive reappraisal to regulate their desire to consume idiosyncratically craved or not craved energy-dense foods, and neural activity during regulation was compared with each other and with the activity during passive viewing of energy-dense foods. Regulation of both food types elicited activation in classic top–down self-regulation regions including the dorsolateral prefrontal, inferior frontal, and dorsal anterior cingulate cortices. This main effect of regulation was qualified by an interaction, such that activation in these regions was significantly greater during reappraisal of craved (versus not craved) foods and several regions, including the dorsolateral prefrontal, inferior frontal, medial frontal, and dorsal anterior cingulate cortices, were uniquely active during regulation of personally craved foods. Body mass index significantly negatively correlated with regulation-related activation in the right dorsolateral PFC, thalamus, and bilateral dorsal ACC and with activity in nucleus accumbens during passive viewing of craved (vs. neutral, low-energy density) foods. These results suggest that several of the brain regions involved in the self-regulation of food craving are similar to other kinds of affective self-regulation and that others are sensitive to the self-relevance of the regulation target.
Giuliani NR, McRae K, Gross JJ
A growing body of research has examined the regulation of negative emotions. However, little is known about the physiological processes underlying the regulation of positive emotions, such as when amusement is enhanced during periods of stress or attenuated in the pursuit of social goals. The aim of this study was to examine the psychophysiological consequences of the cognitive up- and down-regulation of amusement. To address this goal, participants viewed brief, amusing film clips while measurements of experience, behavior, and peripheral physiology were collected. Using an event-related design, participants viewed each film under the instructions either to (a) watch, (b) use cognitive reappraisal to increase amusement, or (c) use cognitive reappraisal to decrease amusement. Findings indicated that emotion experience, emotion-expressive behavior, and autonomic physiology (including heart rate, respiration, and sympathetic nervous system activation) were enhanced and diminished in accordance with regulation instructions. This finding is a critical extension of the growing literature on the voluntary regulation of emotion, and has the potential to help us better understand how people use humor in the service of coping and social goals.
Giuliani NR, Pfeifer JH
The ability to regulate temptation and manage appetitive cravings is an important aspect of healthy adolescent development, but the neural systems underlying this process are understudied. In the present study, 60 healthy females evenly distributed from 10 to 23years of age used reappraisal to regulate the desire to consume personally-craved and not craved unhealthy foods. Reappraisal elicited activity in common self-regulation regions including the dorsal and ventral lateral prefrontal cortex (specifically superior and inferior frontal gyri), dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, and inferior parietal lobule. Viewing personally-craved foods (versus not craved foods) elicited activity in regions including the ventral striatum, as well as more rostral and ventral anterior cingulate cortex extending into the orbitofrontal cortex. Age positively correlated with regulation-related activity in the right inferior frontal gyrus, and negatively correlated with reactivity-related activity in the right superior and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices. Age-adjusted BMI negatively correlated with regulation-related activity in the predominantly left lateralized frontal and parietal regions. These results suggest that the age-related changes seen in the reappraisal of negative emotion may not be as pronounced in the reappraisal of food craving. Therefore, reappraisal of food craving in particular may be an effective way to teach teenagers to manage cravings for other temptations encountered in adolescence, including alcohol, drugs, and unhealthy food.