A PhD from two universities on drug abuse

Stimulating drugs, such as khat and cocaine, have a negative impact on everyday activities such as driving a car and working, as well as on social behaviour. That’s because these drugs seriously damage control centres in a user’s brain. Psychologist Manuel Ruiz’s research aims to increase understanding, and improve treatment, of drug addiction. His PhD defence at both Leiden University and the University of Granada took place on May 12.

Did fruit contribute to Apple’s success?

Steve Jobs swore by a fruit diet, as he believed it improved his ideas. And he wasn’t wrong: food with high levels of tyrosine, like bananas, peaches and almonds, allow us to think harder and more creatively. Leiden cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato published an article on the subject on 26 September in Psychological Research.

Veni for Marieke Jepma and Bart Verkuil

Psychologists Marieke Jepma and Bart Verkuil have been awarded Veni grants by NWO. They are among the 15 promising research talents from Leiden University who will receive the grant this year.

The E-Primer

Leiden University Press recently published the first introduction book to E-Prime. E-Prime is a software package frequently used for designing, developing and running custom psychological experiments. Aimed at students and researchers alike, The E-Primer provides a much needed, down-to-earth introduction into a wide range of experiments that can be set up using E-Prime.

You can think too much

People can think too much about their capabilities. Once you've mastered something, it's not a good idea to spend too much time thinking about it. Leiden cognitive psychologists Bruno Bocanegra and Bernhard Hommel have published an article on the subject in Psychological Science.

Better memory at ideal temperature

People’s working memory functions better if they are working in an ambient temperature where they feel most comfortable. That is what Leiden psychologists Lorenza Colzato and Roberta Sellaro conclude after having conducted research. They are publishing their findings in Psychological Research.

Difference between brain hemispheres not so strict

The difference between the rational left hemisphere and the emotional right hemisphere is by no means as strict as the popular view would have us believe. PhD candidate Jurriaan Witteman has published a study on this topic in Cognitive, Affective and Behavioural Neuroscience.

Tyrosine helps you stop faster

A child suddenly runs out into the road. Brake!! A driver who has recently eaten spinach or eggs will stop faster, thanks to the amino acid tyrosine found in these and other food products. Leiden cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato publishes her findings in the journal Neuropsychologia.

Reduced cognitive control in passionate lovers

People who are in love are less able to focus and to perform tasks that require attention. Researcher Henk van Steenbergen concludes this, together with colleagues from Leiden University and the University of Maryland. The article has appeared in the journal Motivation and Emotion.

Need inspiration? Let’s get physical!

People who exercise regularly are better at creative thinking. This is the outcome of research by Leiden cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato. She published an article on this subject in the scientific magazine Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Eating to trust

The administration of the amino acid tryptophan (TRP) contained in food such as fish, soy, eggs and spinach promotes interpersonal trust.

Meditation makes you more creative

Certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking. This is the outcome of a study by cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato and her fellow researchers at Leiden University, published 19 April in the open access journalist  'Frontiers in Cognition'.

Seen in the scanner: curiosity stimulates the memory

Curiosity makes people stressed. Satisfying the curiosity works as a reward and also stimulates the memory. Researchers at the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition have provided new evidence for a classical theory about human curiosity using functional MRI scans. The researchers have published an article on the subject in 'Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience'.

A robot that bakes pancakes

Can robots bake pancakes? As far as cognitive psychologist Bernhard Hommel is concerned, yes. Once they are equipped with a cognitive control system, robots can become increasingly smarter through interaction with internet. And that’s where the future lies. Robotics projects in seven European countries are collaborating in this interdisciplinary project, with a European subsidy of € 7.2 million.

Is attention from females different?

Is attention from women different from attention from men? Leiden researchers and their colleagues in Toronto investigated the effects of the hormone oestrogen on spontaneous attention. They were hoping in this way to explain differences between the sexes. Women turned out to only be different from men when they had a high level of oestrogen in their menstruation cycle.

European subsidy for Sander Nieuwenhuis for the brain in action

Adrenaline stimulates our body to take action. Noradrenaline does the same with our brain. It is the effect of noradrenaline on the brain that is the subject of research by cognitive psychologist Sander Nieuwenhuis. With his Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for talented, up-and-coming researchers, he now has 1.5 million euro to fund his own research team.

Alcohol as self-medication

Some people are by nature more sensitive to stress than others. It’s genetic. Such people might have a tendency to drink more alcohol to reduce stress-induced anxiety. This 'self-medication' hypothesis is confirmed by researchers of the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition of Leiden University.