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  • Our main research method is functional MRI. Click on the image to read more about our research.

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.

Symposium VR

On Friday the 9th of June, a symposium on the potential of VR for eating behavior research and behavior change, will take place at the UMC Utrecht.

Recent technological developments render Virtual Reality (VR) a promising tool for scientific and commercial eating behavior research and for behavior change in consumers and eating disorder patients. VR allows collecting data or delivering interventions in a tightly controlled yet realistic environment, at relatively low cost and with a high degree of flexibility.

As part of the NWO funded project ‘VIRTUE’, we developed the NeuroShop, a fMRI-compatible virtual supermarket to test the effectiveness and neural underpinnings of healthy eating interventions. We organize a closing symposium which brings together speakers from academia, commercial research institutes and an eating disorder clinic. Presentations will cover the application of virtual supermarkets to study the factors influencing food choices and the brain mechanisms underlying these choices and commercial applications of VR in product and packaging research. Furthermore, the use of VR in academic research on cue reward learning, and eating disorder symptom assessment and treatment will be covered. During the breaks, there is the opportunity to experience VR yourself by participating in demonstrations. There will be a demonstration of the NeuroShop. Human Concern will let people experience the world through the eyes of an anorexia patient. VR-dining will demonstrate how VR can affect our sensory experiences during consumption.

Organisation: Nynke van der Laan & Paul Smeets
Target audience: Scientists, delegates from industry and behavior change organizations, as well as anyone with a general interest in the application of VR in this field. 
Date: Friday June 9th 2017
Location: UMC Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 100, Auditorium Q.01.226, Utrecht
Cost: € 12.50, students pay € 10 and should mention this with registration
Registration: Send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your name, affiliation and if applicable student status. There is limited seating so be sure to register a.s.a.p. Registration closes June 6th. 

13:10-13:40 Nynke van der Laan, University Medical Center Utrecht - Summary of VIRTUE project: Introducing the NeuroShop: a realistic fMRI-compatible VIRTUal food choice Environment to test the effectiveness and neural underpinnings of healthy eating interventions. 
13:40-14:10 Anouk Keizer, Utrecht University - The role of Virtual Reality in assessment and treatment of body image disturbances in Anorexia Nervosa.
14:10-14:30 Stichting Human Concern – Recovered eating disorder therapist about experiencing an eating disorder by virtual reality. 
14:30-15:00 Coffee and demonstrations
15:00 -15:30 Erica van Herpen, Wageningen University and Research - Using a virtual supermarket to simulate consumer behaviour and bring realism into the lab: Validation and behavioral results. 
15:30-15:50 Karolien van den Akker, Maastricht University – Contextual appetitive conditioning in Virtual Reality. 
15:50-16:10 Jos van den Puttelaar, Wageningen Economic Research – VR supermarket consumer research: a minimal viable product approach.
16:10-16:30 Garmt Dijksterhuis, WUR Food & Biobased Research - (Almost) real life studies: The situation under control
16:30-......... Network drinks and demonstrations

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