Food for thought: a tailored approach to enhance cognitive control


The flexibility and adaptivity of human behavior is due to cognitive-control proc-esses that reconfigure our cognitive system according to our current goals and situational demands. Cognitive-control functions are not only particularly relevant for orchestrating adaptive behavior, they are also particularly sensitive and vulnerable?as are the two neural systems underlying them: the mesocortical maintenance system and the nigrostri-atal flexibility system. The aim of my project is to enhance the functioning of these two systems in healthy humans by means of food supplementation. Given that both systems rely on dopamine, I will investigate whether and how tyrosine, an amino acid contained in various types of food (soy, fish, eggs, milk) and a precursor of dopamine, improves the three major cognitive-control functions: switching between tasks; inhibiting unwanted responses, and updating working memory. I will also test the assumption that previous failures to demonstrate generalizable effect of tyrosine were due to the insufficient appre-ciation of interindividual differences, such as genetic variability related to dopamine sup-ply. Based on the outcome of a pilot study, I suggest that tyrosine will compensate for unfavorable genetic predispositions and eliminate individual differences in cognitive con-trol. If successful, this approach would provide an important step towards developing food programs that are tailored to individual needs. The proposed research will be the first to combine behavioral genetics, cognitive and nutritional intervention studies from a cognitive neuroscience perspective and it will provide the basis for a comprehensive model of how tyrosine modulates cognitive control in healthy humans.


Boek of monografie

  • LS Colzato(2017): Theory-Driven Approaches to Cognitive Enhancement pp. 337 , New York


Wetenschappelijk artikel





Dr. L.S. Colzato

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen, Instituut Psychologie


Dr. L.S. Colzato, Dr. M.J. Maraver, Dr. R. Sellaro, Dr. L. Steenbergen


01/09/2013 tot 31/08/2018