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Are our food choices well analysed ?

Research unit

UMR 7357 - Laboratoire des Sciences de l'Ingénieur, de l'Informatique et de l'Imagerie (ICube)
300, bd S. Brant, BP 10413, 67412 Illkirch cedex


Name: IMIS

Group leader: ARMSPACH Jean-paul - jparmspach@unistra.fr

Group leader's phone:

Group organization:
- Chercheurs: 17
- ITA: 7
- Doctorants: 16
- Post-Docs: 1
- Autres: 3

Publications of the team linked to the topic (3 last years):
1) Gaillet M, Sulmont-Rossé C, Issanchou S, Chabanet C, Chambaron S, Impact of non attentively perceived odour on subsequent food choices, Appetite, 2014, 76, 17-22
NB: S Chambaron co-encadrante
2) Remy E, Divert C, Rousselot J, Brondel L, Issanchou S, Nicklaus S.
Impact of energy density on liking for sweet beverages and caloric-adjustment conditioning in children, Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Oct;100(4):1052-8.
NB: S Nicklaus co-directrice de thèse
3) Legiša J, Messinger DS, Kermol E, Marlier L.
Emotional responses to odors in children with high-functioning autism: autonomic arousal, facial behavior and self-report.
J Autism Dev Disord. 2013 Apr;43(4):869-79

About PhD

PhD Director: MARLIER Luc - marlier@unistra.fr

Phone: 0368854001

Junior advisor: CHAMBARON Stphanie

Co-tutely: non

Co-Director: NICKLAUS Sophie
University of Co-Director: Univerit de Bourgogne

About PhD topic :

Title: Are our food choices well analysed ?

Project: Who has never been tempted to eat a warm croissant when walking near a bakery? This typical situation shows that sensory signals (odors, images, etc.) present in the environment can push us to purchase and consume a particular food. Recent studies in cognitive psychology confirm the existence of this phenomenon and show that sensory signals, even if not consciously perceived, can trigger specific behaviors and guide our choices and decisions (Dijkterhuis et al., Nature, 2006). The feeding behaviour is not an exception to this rule. Endeed, it has been shown that people exposed unknowingly to a smell of fruit of low intensity (intensity that makes this odor not attentively perceptible) opt mainly for fruits at the dessert of the following lunch which contrasts with persons not previously exposed to the smell and who will in turn select more caloric desserts (Gaillet et al., Food Quality and Preference, 2013, Gaillet et al, Appetite, 2014). This power of a sensory stimulus to influence the choices of the unwittingly consumer can be explained by what is known in psychology as a priming effect. It is a cognitive phenomenon which activates or pre-activate unconscious cognitive processes, will influence the following conscious cognitive processes and finally the behaviour. But to date, the brain activations induced by these priming effect remain very poorly explored.

The goal of this thesis is to further explore the brain activations induced 1) by these olfactory priming phenomena and 2) by food choice tasks when following an olfactory priming. These explorations will be conducted firstly in healthy adult subjects, and will be then extended to adult overweight or obese subjects, and possibly to children (since this population is alike touched by the obesity epidemia). Our team has an 3T MRI scanner and fMRI sequences usefull to examine this phenomena. It has also an olfactory stimulator coupled with MRI which allows the assessment of brain activations, or brain pre-activations induced by an olfactory primer. Finally, our MRI scanner is equipped with a computer screen to collect the food choices of the subjects based on illustrated menu cards. The candidate will join a multidisciplinary team combining expertise in neuroscience, in food science, in
imaging, and in signal processing. He will be responsible for the recruitment of subjects, will collect data via validated questionnaires, will conduct the olfactory exposure phase, will participate to the recording of f MRI data, will conduct the f MRI images analysis, the statistics analysis, and will contribute to the writing and the dissemination of the results.

Better understanding how conscious and non-conscious cognitive processes guide our food choices, could lead to new clinical strategies for people suffering from eating disorders, and could help these people to make healthier food choices. This could also modify prevention messages expressed by the health authorities by taking into account the existence of unconscious processes when making food choices. Finally, it is important to better
understand the cognitive mechanisms underlying food choices in order to avoid any consumer being trapped by olfactory marketing strategies, an domain in which were interested, long before scientists, the giants of food distribution and of fast food.

Wished skills: Knowledge in Neuroscience and / or in experimental psychology
Knowledge in imaging appreciadted
Knowledge in the field of food science or in olfaction appreciated

Expertises which will be acquired during the training: FMRI acquisition and image processing
Recruitment of people and managment of fMRI tests
Ethical dimension in human studies
Tools in computer science and signal analysis
Knowledge in the field of sensory and food science
Writing papers in English and oral presentations at conferences