Mary M. Boggiano.

Associate Professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
CH 325
(205) 996-4562

Research Interests: Psychobiology, motivation, eating disorders and obesity

Office Hours: By appointment


  • B.A., University of Texas at El Paso, Psychology
  • M.A., University of Texas at El Paso, Psychology
  • Ph.D., University of Texas at El Paso, Psychology
  • Postdoc, University of Cincinnati Medical College

Research Interests

Past areas of research included the development of animal models of binge-eating (e.g., Stress + Dieting model) and models showing the independence of binge-eating and obesity (e.g., Binge-eating Prone vs. Resistant or “BEP/BER” model). Drug, HPLC, and RIA studies implicated sensitization of mu-opioid receptors, dysregulation of mesolimibic monoamine release, and increased cortisol as mechanisms behind binge-eating. Other systems studied are the role of central PYY and the melanocortin system in eating behavior. Novel behavioral methods included use or increasing levels of foot shock to test the motivation of rats for palatable food and a Pavlovian model of conditioned overeating.

Dr. Boggiano’s animal models of binge-eating and obesity are being used in academic and industry labs to gain a better understanding of the physiology of binge-eating disorders and obesity and to test the efficacy of new drugs for these conditions. Other research involved the use of Ansel Key’s famous WWII Minnesota Starvation Experiment surveys in modern-day individuals to assess the role of dieting in binge-eating and chaotic eating behaviors such as food concocting.

Her current research is focused solely on human subjects and includes the development, validation, and testing of a novel scale to assess motives behind eating highly palatable food (the Palatable Eating Motives Scale or “PEMS”) in adolescents, teens, college students, and weight-loss seeking adults. The PEMS should personalize and hence improve treatments for obesity and binge-eating.

Other current research involves testing the efficacy of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to reduce food cravings and binge-eating traits in humans. Future studies will aim to identify the neural substrates of palatable-food intake for distinct motives and the effect of tDCS on eating behavior. A second aim will involve designing intervention studies using the PEMS and tDCS to treat obesity and binge eating.

Read more:

Graduate Students

  • Paula Chandler, Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Rachel Rybak, Medical Psychology
  • Pamela Wauford, Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Annie Artiga, Medical Psychology
  • Kim Oswald, Medical Psychology
  • Emilee Burgess, Medical Psychology
  • Mary Katherine Osborn-Ray, Behavioral Neuroscience

Recent Courses

  • PY 101: Intro to Psychology
  • PY 201: Honors Intro to Psychology – Focus on Neuroscience
  • PY 335: Motivation & Emotion
  • PY 455/791: Psychology of Eating Disorders & Obesity
  • PY 453/753: Lectures in Adv Behav Neuroscience / Overview of Behav Neuroscience

Select Publications

Hagan is former name; Boggiano is current name. For full publication list email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Hagan, M.M., Rushing, P.A., Pritchard, L. M. Schwartz, M. W., Strack, A., Vander Ploeg, L., Woods, S.C. & Seeley, R. J. (2000). Long-term orexigenic effects of agouti related peptide (83-132) involve mechanisms other than melanocortin receptor blockade. American Journal of Physiology, 279(1), R47-R52.
  • Hagan, M.M., Wauford, P. K., Chandler, P. C., Jarrett, L. A., Rybak, R. J., & Blackburn, K. (2002). A new animal model of binge eating: key synergistic role of past caloric restriction and stress. Physiology & Behavior, 77(1), 45-54. Selected for commentary.
  • Tschop, M., Castaneda, T. R., Joost, H. G., Thone-Reineke, C., Ortmann, S., Klaus, S., Hagan, M.M., et al. (2004). Physiology: does gut hormone PYY3-36 decrease food intake in rodents? Nature, 430(6996), 1-2 following 165.
  • Boggiano, M.M., Chandler, P. C., Viana, J. B., Oswald, K. D., Maldonado, C. R., & Wauford, P. K. (2005). Combined dieting and stress evoke exaggerated responses to opioids in binge-eating rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, 119(5), 1207-1214.
  • Boggiano, M.M., Artiga, A. I., Pritchett, C. E., Chandler, P.C., Smith, M. L., & Eldridge, A. J. (2007). High intake of palatable food predicts binge-eating characteristics independent of susceptibility to obesity: An animal model of lean vs. obese binge eating and obesity with and without binge-eating. International Journal of Obesity, 31(9), 1357-1367.
  • Boggiano, M.M., Dorsey, J., Thomas, J. M., & Murdaugh, D. (2009). The Pavlovian power of palatable food: lessons for weight-loss adherence from a new rodent model of cue-induced overeating. International Journal of Obesity, 33(6), 693-701. PMC2697275.
  • Boggiano, M. M., Turan, B., Maldonado, C.R., Oswald, K.D. & Shuman, E.J. (2013). Secretive food concocting in binge-eating: Test of a famine hypothesis. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 46, 212–225.
  • Boggiano, M.M., Wenger, L.E., Turan, B., Tatum, M.M., Sylvester, M.D., Morgan, P.R. & Burgess, E.E. (2015). Real-time sampling of reasons for hedonic food consumption: further validation of the Palatable Eating Motives Scale. Frontiers in Psychology-Eating Behavior, 6: 744.
  • Burgess, E.E., Sylvester, M.D., Morse, K.E., Amthor, F.R., Mrug, S., Lokken, K., Osborn, M.K., Soleymani, T. and Boggiano, M.M. (2016) Effect of transcranial direct stimulation (tDCS) on binge eating disorder.International Journal of Eating Disorders, 49: 930-936. PMCID: PMC5098405 DOI:10.1002/eat.22554

Academic Distinctions and Professional Societies

  • Outstanding Thesis Award, College of Liberal Arts, Univ Texas El Paso, 1993
  • "A new animal model of binge eating: key synergistic role of past caloric restriction and stress" selected for Published Commentary: Geary, N. IJED, 34 (2): 198-199, 2003
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) –panelist on the Division of Pediatric Translational Research and Treatment Development. Goal: to develop new funding directives in early recognition of eating disorders in children and adolescents. Bethesda, MD, January 28-29, 2005
  • Best Paper in the Area of Obesity or Nutrition; Science Unbound Foundation Award, 2006
  • Invited speaker at the-35th Anniversary of the Columbia Univ. Appetitive Seminars, 2007
  • 1st Inaugural Translational Research Speaker selected by the Academy for Eating Disorders, 2008
  • Three-time Professor of the Month Award – UAB Alpha Omicron Pi, 2002, 2007, 2010
  • President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching at UAB, 2006
  • Only basic/animal researcher of a panel of clinical experts invited to present at R13 Workshop: Binge Eating Disorder: The Next Generation of Research, Bethesda, MD (2012) (intended to inform NIH on the need to include Binge-Eating Disorder in the upcoming DSM-5; now an official disorder in the DSM).

Student Groups

  • Support Psi Chi and Open Minds on Eating Disorder awareness activities.