Lab

Morgan H James's Lab

Featured research (1)

It has been proposed that binge eating reflects a pathological compulsion driven by the “addictive” properties of foods. Proponents of this argument highlight the large degree of phenomenological and diagnostic overlap between binge eating disorder (BED) and substance use disorders (SUDs), including loss of control over how much is consumed and repeated unsuccessful attempts to abstain from consumption, as well as commonalities in brain structures involved in food and drug craving. To date, very little attention has been given to an additional behavioral symptom that BED shares with SUDs—sleep dysregulation—and the extent to which this may contribute to the pathophysiology of BED. Here, we review studies examining sleep outcomes in patients with BED, which collectively point to a heightened incidence of sleep abnormalities in BED. We identify the orexin (hypocretin) system as a potential neurobiological link between compulsive eating and sleep dysregulation in BED, and provide a comprehensive update on the evidence linking this system to these processes. Finally, drawing on evidence from the SUD literature indicating that the orexin system exhibits significant plasticity in response to drugs of abuse, we hypothesize that chronic palatable food consumption likewise increases orexin system activity, resulting in dysregulated sleep/wake patterns. Poor sleep, in turn, is predicted to exacerbate binge eating, contributing to a cycle of uncontrolled food consumption. By extension, we suggest that pharmacotherapies normalizing orexin signaling, which are currently being trialed for the treatment of SUDs, might also have utility in the clinical management of BED.

Lab head

Morgan H James
Department
  • Brain Health Institute
About Morgan H James
  • Our research is focused on understanding the brain pathways involved in psychiatric disease. Much of my work is focused on the hypocretin/orexin neuropeptide system, which we believe to hold significant therapeutic potential for the treatment of diseases such as addiction and depression. I use a combination of behavioral, anatomical, chemo/optogenetic and electrophysiological approaches to study these systems with the view of guiding and informing translational outcomes.

Members (5)

Shayna O'Connor
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Morgan Paladino
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Kaushanie Fernandopulle
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Alexandra G. Shumyatsky
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Michelle Bilotti
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Jacqueline B. Mehr
Jacqueline B. Mehr
  • Not confirmed yet
Michelle Bilotti
Michelle Bilotti
  • Not confirmed yet
Abanoub Armonious
Abanoub Armonious
  • Not confirmed yet
Samuel Liu
Samuel Liu
  • Not confirmed yet