Food & Cognition

Our research focuses on the neurocognitive mechanisms of eating behavior as well as how the foods we consume impact our brain and cognition. We study gut-brain communication as many Food & Cognition effects happen through the gut microbiome, immune system or peripheral markers of hunger and satiety. We are particularly interested in cognitive functions mediated by the dopamine system, such as motivation and cognitive control. Therefore, our research is performed in - and is relevant for - disorders with known dopamine deficits, such as ADHD, obesity, and Parkinson’s disease. For this, we use cognitive neuroimaging (mostly fMRI) in combination with pharmacological, behavioural, and nutritional interventions.

Projects:

  • BriteN: The relation between nutritional status and the neural development of spatial cognition using fMRI (link)
  • Satisfaction: Revealing the mechanisms linking attention and satiation under laboratory and real life conditions (link)
  • The impact of probiotics on the gut-brain axis (link)
  • The neurocognitive mechanisms of mindful eating
  • The role of dopamine and noradrenaline in motivated cognitive control
  • MOCIA: Maintaining Optimal Cognitive function In Ageing – a personalised lifestyle prevention approach (NWO-crossover, Aarts)
  • The obesity spiral: inflammation and effortless fast food choices (ERC, Aarts)
  • Understanding brain mechanisms of cancer-related fatigue: a sickness-behaviour approach (KWF, van der Schaaf)

Key grants & prizes:

  • 2019: Crossover grant (7 years) by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Title: "MOCIA: Maintaining Optimal Cognitive function In Ageing – a personalised lifestyle prevention approach." [public-private, main applicant Aarts]
  • 2019: Starting grant (5 years) by the European Research Council (ERC). Title: "The obesity spiral: inflammation and effortless fast food choices." [personal, sole applicant Aarts]
  • 2016 - European Regional Development Fund (4 years) by the EU and (local) government. Title: “BriteN: Early nutritional Interventions for healthy brain development" [public-private, co-applicant] More information
  • 2014 - Food, Cognition and Behaviour grant (4 years) by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Title: "Elucidating the neurocognitive mechanisms controlling satiation" [public-private, co-applicant] More information
  • 2012 - Veni grant (3 years) by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Title: "Breaking the habit: the neural correlates of mindful eating" [sole applicant] More information
  • 2011 - Post-doctoral fellowship (2 years) by the AXA Research Fund. Title: “Food, brain, and distractibility: Goal-directed versus habitual control of food intake" [sole applicant] More information2012 - Veni grant (3 years) by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Title: "Breaking the habit: the neural correlates of mindful eating" [sole applicant] More information
  • 2008 - Stipend (1 year) by the Niels Stensen foundation. Title: “The role of catecholamines in attentional control” [sole applicant] More information

Key publications

  • I. Duif, J. Wegman, M. Mars, C. de Graaf, P.A.M. Smeets, E. Aarts (2020). Effects of distraction on taste-related neural processing. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (link)
  • Papalini S, Michels F, Kohn N, Wegman J, van Hemert S, Roelofs K, Arias-Vasquez A, Aarts E (2018). Stress matters: Randomized controlled trial on the effect of probiotics on neurocognition. Neurobiology of Stress 10: 100141. Volledige tekst
  • J Wegman, I van Loon, PAM Smeets, R Cools, E Aarts (2018). Top-down expectation effects of food labels on motivation. NeuroImage 173: 13-24. Volledige tekst
  • Janssen LK, Duif I, van Loon I, Wegman J, de Vries JH, Cools R, Aarts E (2017). Loss of lateral prefrontal cortex control in food-directed attention and goal-directed food choice in obesity. Neuroimage146: 148–156. Full text
  • Van Holst RJ, Van der Cruijsen L, Van Mierlo P, Lammers GJ, Cools R, Overeem S, Aarts E (2016). Aberrant food choices after satiation in human orexin-deficient narcolepsy type-1. SLEEP 39(11): 1951-1959. Full text

Links

Research Group
Food & cognition


Principal Investigator

Dr. Esther Aarts

Group members

Senior researcher
Marieke van der Schaaf

PostDoc
Lisa-Katrin Kaufmann

PhD students
Britt Lambregts
Mark van Loenen
Lianne Remie
Judith Scholing

Research Assistents
Lisette Olsthoorn
Ilke de Lange

Trainees
Elmira de Vries
Evelien Linders
Isis van Echtelt
Geert Woort

Knowledge utilization
Yolanda Kooijmans

Contact information

Location
024-3610651
Postal address
Postbus 9101
6500HB NIJMEGEN