Onderwerp scriptie

Navigating the Current Food Environment

The modern food landscape boasts an abundance of cheap and palatable high-caloric foods. However, not everyone overeats and develops obesity, suggesting large individual differences exist in how one navigates the current “obesogenic” food environment. A recent finding suggests a possible underlying source of these individual differences is an individual’s so-called food spatial memory. In addition, odors represent vivid sensory food cues that are able to signal a food’s nutritional content. There is also a tight link between olfaction and (spatial) memory due to an overlap in cognitive processing pathways. However, literature on (odor-induced) food spatial memory in humans and its behavioural consequences is at present lacking.

The Potential Role of Food Spatial Memory on Eating Behavior

Therefore through the means of a novel computer-based memory task, this inter-disciplinary study aims to investigate the potential influence of food odors on individuals’ memory for specific foods and consequent eating behaviour. Can odors which signal different food properties moderate one’s associated memory for foods? Can (odor-induced) spatial memory translate into changes in dietary intake?

If you are interested in researching the interplay between the senses, cognition, and eating behavior and how this may address the question of 'why people eat what they eat', please contact rachelle.devries@wur.nl to discuss the possibility of completing an MSc thesis/internship on this topic. As a MSc student, you will gain first-hand experience in selecting food (odor) stimuli and carrying out experiments with participants. Ideally, you will be able to start in March or April 2018 but starting dates are negotiable. Motivated students with an affinity for multi-disciplinary research are encouraged to apply!