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Welcome to the website of the Nutritional Neuroscience Laboratory

The Nutritional Neuroscience lab studies the neural correlates of taste, satiety and (unhealthy) food choice, gut-brain interactions, effects of personality characteristics on food-induced brain responses and functional neuroimaging in anorexia nervosa. 

NOTICE: This website will be discontinued by the end of 2021. Resources can still be found at the OSF project pages of Paul Smeets.

Publication NeuroImage

Floor's meta-analysis has been published in NeuroImage, read it here!

 Food cues are all around us, and they may be causing us to eat more than we should. In the last two decades the prevalence of childhood obesity has increased dramatically all over the world, largely due to overconsumption. Understanding children's neural responses to food may help to develop better interventions for preventing or reducing this overconsumption. We wanted to examine how children’s brains react to viewing food pictures, and whether that differs from adult’s brains. To do this we performed two activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analyses: one with studies in normal weight children/adolescents (aged 8–18, 8 studies) and one with studies in normal weight adults (aged 18–45, 16 studies). With an ALE meta-analysis you can determine which areas in the brain have consistently been found over studies. All studies used functional MRI to measure brain activation during food picture viewing. In children/adolescents we found clusters in the left lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), the bilateral fusiform gyrus, and the right superior parietal lobule. In adults, clusters in similar areas were found.Although the number of studies for a direct statistical comparison between the groups was relatively low, there were indications that children/adolescents may not activate areas important for cognitive control. In future studies children in a narrower age-range should be directly compared to adults, as this would lead to more insights in to how food cue reactivity changes over development.

Read the full publication here


The Nutritional Neuroscience Lab is affiliated with the Image Sciences Institute of the UMC Utrecht, The Netherlands.