Tim was interviewed by the UvA-news

At the beginning of 2020, Tim was interviewed by the UvA-news about why people so often fail to attain to their New Year’s resolutions. Find the interview, which includes some practical tips for making and breaking habits, here: https://bit.ly/2ucpPpQ

Tim presents at Erasmus Uni

On 23 January, Tim presented at the ROCKS meeting, Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences in Rotterdam. He mainly talked about several studies from his PhD thesis, titled ‘Addiction: a striatal roller-coaster: on the neural and associative-learning mechanisms underlying gambling and alcohol use disorder.

Tim, Irene and Lotte at NVP 2019

At the infamous NVP (December 19-21), Egmond aan Zee, Tim presented a poster on his recent work showing that taxing working-memory load leads to inflexible habitual responding. During a run on the beach, he also spotted a young seal that was drifted ashore! Lotte presented a poster on a study that was led by irene into routine formation (and implementation intentions) to promote medication adherence in healthy aging, in which lab and real-life measures of cognitive functioning and habit learning were combined. Last but not least, Irene presented a poster on the neural dynamics supporting habit acquisition and adjustment as investigated with a novel habit paradigm combined with EEG measurement.

Irene presents findings of large-scale investigation of medication adherence in younger and older adults

On the 5th of December, Irene presented the first results of our study on the role of routine formation in the promotion of medication adherence in healthy aging to a large number of the older adults that participated in the study. Whereas this sneak preview was for a limited audience, once the final results are published they will of course be announced here!

Grant awarded: Active healthy Aging

The newly founded Centre for Urban Mental Health (UMH) awarded a grant to Richard Ridderinkhof, Harm Krugers, Jaap Murre and Sanne de Wit to study determinants of well-being and resilience in the face of stressful perturbations in healthy aging using a network approach.

For more information about the UMH initiative, see:

Sanne and Irene present recent work at Tilburg University

On the 28th of October, Sanne and Irene presented their work on the neural basis of habits and automaticity at the Dept. of Medical and Clinical psychology at the University of Tilburg. Sanne presented the results from a DTI investigation of individual differences in real-world routine formation, and Irene presented an EEG investigation of neural dynamics supporting habit acquisition and their adjustment.

Tim presents his poster at ESCOP 2019

At ESCOP 2019 (26-28 September), located at the sunny Tenerife, Tim presents a poster on a study investigating whether the use of implementation intentions leads to inflexible habits and increased automaticity – with a very attentive audience.

21st conferene of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology

The ESCOP 2019 meeting at Tenerife is coming up! We will be presenting our recent studies into habit formation:

Irene will give an oral presentation on the EEG correlates of habits and implementation intentions.

Tim will give a poster presentation on preliminary findings concerning the influence of implementation intentions on behavioural flexibility.

Sanne will give an oral presentation on the role of corticostriatal pathways in real-world routine formation and automatization.

More information can be found here: https://escop2019.webs.ull.es/

Tim van Timmeren defended his PhD thesis at the Agnietenkapel in Amsterdam.

On Friday July 5th (’19) Tim was promoted to Dr. Tim after successfully defending his PhD thesis, entitled: “Addiction: a striatal roller-coaster. On the neural and associative-learning mechanisms underlying gambling and alcohol use disorder” (available here)! Congratulations to Tim and his supervisors Anneke Goudriaan and Ruth Holst!


Sanne gives a presentation at ICANA-4, Yale 2019

Sanne presents our research into novel (real life and lab) models of habit formation at the 4th International Conference on Applications of Neuroimaging to Alcoholism
ICANA-4, July 19-21, 2019. ICANA-4 is part of the NIAAA Center for the Translational Neuroscience of Alcoholism (CTNA) based at the Yale University Department of Psychiatry.

Sanne will present in Madrid

On 28 May 2019, Sanne visits the Centro Integral de Neurociencias A.C. (CINAC) at Madrid, where she will give a presentation on obstacles and promises in habit research.

Sanne invited for presentation in Vienna

On 13 May 2019, Sanne visited Dr. Sabine Tebbich at the University of Vienna, and gave a presentation about translation of animal models to human habit formation at the Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution.

Irene presents at Aging & Cognition 2019

At Aging & Cognition 2019 in Zürich (24-26 April), Irene presented a poster on a study in which we investigate how age-related and individual differences in cognition and personality affect the ability to learn a new pill-taking habit in real life, in the context of medication adherence (picture: Frank Brüderli).

Sanne and Irene participate in ‘Health, Behaviour and Society’, UvA FMG conference 18 May 2019

Parallel sessions, afternoon

Understanding and Optimising Health Interventions
If we want to optimize intervention strategies to enhance human health, we need to understand how they work. This panel brings together researchers committed to understanding and optimizing health interventions, from four different departments (3 FMG; 1 Amsterdam UMC). They will integrate their theoretical and methodological expertise on health interventions to enhance our shared knowledge, and to explore and encourage future within- and between-faculty collaborations.  

  • Hilde Huizenga (Psychology)
  • Julia van Weert / Annemiek Linn (Communication Sciences)
  • Kim Oostrom / Linde Scholten (Pediatric Psychology; Amsterdam UMC)
  • Irene van de Vijver (Psychology)
  • Patty Leijten (Child Development)

Urban dynamics and health
The urban environment comes with specific impacts on people’s health: green spaces under pressure, (un) healthy food choices around every corner, recreational drug use. How do we deal with these? What role can policies play?

  • Socio-spatial analysis of health in cities, by Els Veldhuizen, Urban Planning
  • (Urban) environments, eating habits and health, by Sanne de Wit, Psychology
  • ‘Hassle-free’ highs in the city, by Mishra Swasti, Medical Anthropology


Discussion panel ‘Food, Health, and Sustainability’

Recent international reports like the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems but also the Global Environment Outlook Report ‘Healthy planet, healthy people’,  reconfirm the negative impacts of human consumption on both the planet and on human health. Both reports call for drastic changes in current and future consumption patterns and state that when we make healthy food choices – like less meat and dairy, more vegetables, sustainable food systems – this will not only benefit our own personal health but also our planet. There is a risk that such dietary and behavioural advice by scientific experts encounter public backlash. So, how can we motivate people to make other choices? How can we make sure that worldwide people will have equal access to sustainable food systems? What role can policies play?

Participants panel

Ron Dahl

Ron Dahl is director of the Institute of Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley, Professor in the School of Public Health and the Joint Medical Program and Chief Science Officer at the Center for the Developing Adolescent.
Profile page Ron Dahl

Joyeeta Gupta

Joyeeta Gupta is full professor of environment and development in the global south at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research of the University of Amsterdam and IHE Institute for Water Education in Delft. She is presently co-chair of UN Environment’s Global Environmental Outlook-6 (2016-2019) which will be presented to 195 governments participating in the United Nations Environment Assembly in 2019.
Profile page Joyeeta Gupta

Jaap Seidell

Jaap Seidell is Professor of nutrition and health (‘voeding en gezondheid’) and director of the Health Sciences Department at VU Amsterdam. He is also director of Sarphati Amsterdam (‘Research for Healthy Living’).
Profile page Jaap Seidell

Sanne de Wit

Sanne de Wit is Associate Professor at the Department of Clinical Psychology at the University of Amsterdam. Her area of research and expertise concerns psychological and neural mechanisms underlying habitual behavior, associative learning and behavioral modification (see www.habitlab.nl).
Profile page Sanne de Wit 

Jonathan Zeitlin

Jonathan Zeitlin will chair this discussion panel. He is Professor of Public Policy and Governance, and Distinguished Faculty Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences (FMG) at the University of Amsterdam. He is also Scientific Director of the Amsterdam Centre for European Studies (ACES).
Profile page Jonathan Zeitlin


The panel takes place at the plenary venue of the conference, REC C 1.03. The  second panel is followed by a reception at De Brug.


Conference website and registration


Irene presents at the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society

During the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society in San Francisco (23-26 March), Irene presented a poster on a current study in which we relate individual differences in habit tendency in the lab as well as habit formation in real life to the presence and quality of structural (white-matter) connections in the brain. The study was also selected for a Data Blitz presentation.

Sanne presents at the International Convention for Psychological Science 2019

At the ICPS Convention in Paris (7th-9th of March 2019), Sanne participated in a symposium on habits organized by Jan de Houwer – together with Eike Buabang, Helen Tibboel and Andreas Eder. She presented recent work with a newly developed experimental paradigm (‘the Sneaky Skate Game’), which can be used to assess the balance between goal-directed and habitual control in humans.

New paper on goal-directed behaviour in smokers

A study that was led by Maartje Luijten (Radboud University, Nijmegen) has been published in the journal: Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

We used the computerized slips-of-action task to study the balance between goal-directed and habitual control in smokers. We found no differences overall between the smokers and a nonsmoking control group in task performance. However, individual differences in smoking severity were significantly and negatively correlated with performance, pointing at impaired goal-directed control in more severe smokers.

Luijten, M., Gillan, C.M., de Wit, S., Franken, I.H.A., Robbins, T.W., Ersche, K.D. (2019). Goal-Directed and Habitual Control in Smokers. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntz001

New paper in press: Social Media and Depression Symptoms: A Network Perspective

A new paper by George Aalbers, Richard McNally, Alexandre Heeren, Sanne de Wit and Eiko Fried will soon appear in Journal of Experimental Psychology – General. In this study, the authors investigated the relation between Passive social media use – e.g., scrolling through social media News Feeds – and depression symptoms.

Aalbers, G., McNally, R., Heeren, A., de Wit, S., & Fried, E.I. (in press). Social Media and Depression Symptoms: A Network Perspective. Journal of Experimental Psychology – General

Chapter in The Psychology of Habit

The Psychology of Habit was edited by Prof. Verplanken and was recently published by Springer. Sanne contributed a chapter on the role of habits in maladaptive behaviour and in therapeutic interventions, focusing specifically on the use of implementation intentions to break unwanted habits and form new, more desirable habits.

From the publisher’s site: This unique reference explores the processes and nuances of human habits through social psychology and behavioral lenses. It provides a robust definition and theoretical framework for habit as well as up-to-date information on habit measurement, addressing such questions as which mechanisms are involved in habitual action and whether people can report accurately on their own habits. Specialized chapters pay close attention to how habits can be modified, as well as widely varying manifestations of habitual thoughts and behaviors, including the mechanisms of drug addiction and recovery, the repetitive characteristics of autism, and the unwitting habits of health professionals that may impede patient care. And across these pages, contributors show the potential for using the processes of maladaptive habits to replace them with positive and health-promoting ones. Throughout this volume attention is also paid to the practice of conducting habit research.

For more information, visit the Springer site

Reference: Verhoeven, A.A.C. & de Wit, S. (2018). The role of habits in maladaptive behaviour and therapeutic interventions. In Verplanken, B. (Ed.), The psychology of habit: Theory, mechanisms, change, and contexts. Cham: Springer

Chapter in ‘Understanding goal-directed decision making: computations and neural circuits‘

In this recently published book by Elsevier (Editors: Morris, Bornstein, & Shenhav), Sanne de Wit contributed a chapter on habits and goal-directed action control in disorders of compulsivity, including substance abuse and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

From the publisher’s site: Goal-Directed Decision Making: Computations and Neural Circuits examines the role of goal-directed choice. It begins with an examination of the computations performed by associated circuits, but then moves on to in-depth examinations on how goal-directed learning interacts with other forms of choice and response selection. This is the only book that embraces the multidisciplinary nature of this area of decision-making, integrating our knowledge of goal-directed decision-making from basic, computational, clinical, and ethology research into a single resource that is invaluable for neuroscientists, psychologists and computer scientists alike.

For more information, visit the Elsevier site

Reference: de Wit (2018). Goal-Directed Action in Disorders of Compulsivity. In Morris, Bornstein, & Shenhav (Eds), Understanding Goal-Directed Decision Making: Computations and Neural Circuits. Elsevier