Unna Danner

Contact Information

Altrecht Eating Disorders Rintveld
Wenshoek 4
3705 WE Zeist

Tel: +31 (0)30 696 5477
E-mail: u.danner@altrecht.nl



In 2007 I obtained my PhD degree from the department of Social Psychology of Utrecht University with a project about cognitive processes underlying habitual behavior and in particular the role of inhibitory processes. As I have always been interested in health related behavior, I happily accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at Altrecht Eating Disorders Rintveld in collaboration with the department of Health and Clinical Psychology at Utrecht University. I became a fulltime Senior Research at Rintveld from August 2010 onwards and since 2016 I have been combining this position with a teaching position at the department of Clinical Psychology at Utrecht University. In recent years I have also been part of the board of the Academy for Eating Disorders and currently I fulfill the role of Secretary. Part of my role as Senior Researcher is to coordinate the scientific projects at Rintveld, manage the research team and supervise master students in their thesis projects. In addition, I am responsible for the bridge between science and practice, whereby scientific findings find their way into practice, but also that practical questions are (scientifically) researched and clinical innovations are evaluated. Finally, I am involved in the Scientific Research Committee (CWO) and the Scientific Research Advisory Council (AWO) of Altrecht GGz, and I am part of the conference committee of the Dutch Academy for Eating Disorders (NAE).


The focus of my research is on the interaction between affective and cognitive functioning of people with eating disorders. I am interested in the inflexible nature of patients with eating disorders as can be observed in their tendency to focus on details (referring to weak central coherence) and difficulties changing behavior or multitasking (referring to impaired set shifting abilities). These characteristics suggest that people with eating disorders are not only inflexible in their behavior and cognition, but also in their way of thinking, i.e. thinking styles. Together with Rivierduinen Eating Disorders Ursula, we therefore conducted two large RCT’s (the second one supported by a large ZONMW grant) to examine the added value of Cognitive Remediation Therapy to reduce the burden of this inflexible thinking style. Another topic I am interested in is impaired decision making ability of people with eating disorders. This is most apparent in their eating behavior (e.g., not eating while having severe low weight), but is often also visible in other behaviors: binge-purge behaviors combined with comorbid substance abuse, self-harm or suicidal behavior, but also other behaviors such as risky financial or sexual behavior can be the result of difficulties making adequate decisions. Affective processes are important for adequate decision making, in particular in more complex situations and/or under uncertain conditions. People with eating disorders are known to have disturbances in their affective system and to have difficulties feeling, recognizing, tolerating and regulating (negative) emotions. I therefore ran a few experiments aimed to test the influence of negative affect on decision making ability of people with all types of eating disorders, and currently I am conducting a study together with Benny van der Vijgh and several UU colleagues on congruence between emotion experience on a physiological and psychological level. In the future I hope to test if treatment modules aimed at improving emotion regulation skills will improve decision making ability. In addition to my own line of research, I am involved in several other (funded) studies, national and international collaborations and I have the pleasure to supervise PhD students and research assistants in these projects.


Unna Danner, PhD.


Click here to view my articles on pubmed.

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