Aims of our lab are (a) to determine autonomic and cognitive control mechanisms that regulate food intake, (b) to identify metabolic factors that impact the brain due to overeating and obesity or alternative eating habits, and (c) to test if interventions that target these pathways could improve brain function.
Available PhD projects
Population neuroimaging I: Using ‘big data’ from different cohorts including LIFE-Adult, UK Biobank and NeuroCHARGE, the aim is to discover genetic underpinnings and central mechanisms of neurobehavioural phenotypes such as eating behaviour, personality traits and obesity. This could help to better understand risk factors for the development of common lifestyle-related disorders and to identify targets for tailored intervention strategies.
Population neuroimaging II: Using both hypothesis-driven statistics and predictive machine-learning in these large-scale datasets, the aim is to fosten our understanding of obesity as a risk factor for stroke, dementia and cognitive decline. A special focus lies on evaluating the 6year-follow up assessment of the LIFE-Adult study.
Intervention studies: In proof-of-principle randomized clinical studies we test whether lifestyle and metabolic factors including diet exert beneficial influence on brain structure and function. Sensitive neuroimaging protocols together with behavioural testing, anthropometric assesments and blood- or stool-based biomarkers enable to identify mechanistic pathways.
Quality control and open science in longitudinal neuroimaging: This project aims to optimize and harmonize processing pipelines, statistical analyses and study designs based on comprehensive qualitative and quantitative evaluation of large test-retest reliability MRI samples. To develop novel standards, ranging from scanner parameters, artifact detection to data sharing and protection issues, is urgently needed in order to push the field forward.