Healthyways @ MSD!

At the beginning of this year, the Healthyways coaching program was launched at the large pharmaceutical company MSD. The Healthyways coaches train employees of MSD in transforming their unhealthy snacking habits into healthy ones. In this way, the participants are supported in changing their eating habits, and they are contributing to scientific research of the Habit Lab. In April, we are ready to start coaching the third cohort of motivated employees!

Would you like to learn more about the Healthyways coachings project? Please visit:

Healthy Ways



HabitLab visits LIMIOR obesity conference in Leipzig

During 6th-10th of September, the HabitLab visited the first ‘Leipzig International Meeting for Interdisciplinary Obesity Research Leipzig’. Aukje Verhoeven, Poppy Watson and Sarah Knot gave poster presentations. Aukje presented a poster on part of her PhD research into: promoting healthy eating habits using implementation intentions as a meta-cognitive strategy. Poppy presented her research into Pavlovian-instrumental interactions and their potential role in food-seeking behaviour in obese individuals. Sarah presented the HealthyWays coaching research (for eating and exercise habits) that she participated in for her research master’s thesis. Finally, Sanne de Wit gave a talk about external stimulus control in an obesogenic environment.

Link to LIMIOR website:


Limior Habit Lab group

Limior Aukje


A warm welcome to our new colleague Sarah Knot!

Sarah has just completed her Research Master in Brain & Cognition at the UvA, and this week she has started her PhD on the topic of strategic automaticity through implementation intentions. She will investigate whether these simple if-then plans can accelerate the formation of stimulus-response habits, as reflected both in increased efficiency but also reduced behavioral flexibility. To this end, she will develop experimental models for both behavioral and f/rMRI investigation. The practical relevance of this research concerns the improvement and individual tailoring of interventions aimed at changing maladaptive habits.

British Association for Psychopharmacology Summer Meeting 2015

At the BAP Summer Meeting (July 2015), Naomi Fineberg and Dick Veltman chaired a symposium on ‘Advances in Compulsivity – A trans-diagnostic perspective’. Sanne de Wit spoke on models of compulsivity ‘from animal to human endophenotypes’.

This symposium addresses compulsivity from a trans-diagnostic (horizontal) perspective, drawing attention to the substantial societal cost of behaviours and disorders characterised by compulsivity, underpinning mechanisms and implications for treatment. We aim to raise awareness of the importance of recognizing and treating compulsivity within psychiatry and generate new research directions.


Link to meeting:

Advances in the Science of Habit meeting, Catalina Island 2015

During July 22-26, Sanne and Poppy attended the Advances in the Science Of Habits meeting on Catalina Island, that was organized by Wendy Wood, and supported by the University of Southern California and Templeton foundation. It was a truly inspiring meeting! And next to lots of interesting talks and discussions with experts on habit, swimming with leopard sharks was a bonus!

“In recent years, we are seeing remarkable advances in scientific understanding of the psychological and neural mechanisms behind habit learning and performance. These developments are evident in research in psychology, neuroscience, economics, consumer behavior, and health. Our conference provides an opportunity for researchers working within these different disciplines to present their work, exchange ideas, and potentially develop collaborations. The conference features basic research on the neuropsychological mechanisms behind habit formation and performance as well as research on the implications of habits for social behavior, marketing, and health.”

Link to conference:



Congratulations Aukje with the Creatieve Geestprijs!

On the 1st of June (2015) in the Brakke Grond, Freek and Hella de Jonge awarded the Creative Mind Prize to Aukje, for her research proposal entitled: Freed from fixation: Untangling the chains of learned associations. This prize was supplemented by an ABC Talent grant, which means that Aukje has one year’s worth of salary and research funding to carry out her research project, in which she translates principles from healthy psychology and habit to the domain of creativity. Congratulations Aukje!

Creative Mind Prize

Artikel in Blind: Het brein op de automatische piloot (Sanne de Wit)

In dit artikel in het interdisciplinaire tijdschrift Blind, bespreekt Sanne de Wit verschillende onderzoeksmethoden op het gebied van gewoontes: dagboek-onderzoek, experimentele methodes en neuroimaging. Ieder methode heeft zowel voor- als nadelen. Systematisch onderzoek waarin deze methodes worden gecombineerd, is dan ook cruciaal.

Link naar artikel: