About the study
We have a dream! Our goal is to discover how the brain works and how the brain effects our daily lives. The Healthy Brain Study hopes to answer these questions. This is a unique, long-term study carried out by Radboud University, Radboudumc and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, together with other organizations, and volunteers in their thirties.
Why choose a hamburger over a salad? How does a certain food ingredient influence your mood and your decision to buy a new car? How does sitting and sleeping influence the way you deal with stress? What makes you decide to buy a house and which street to live on? Do you feel better in a relationship or on your own? What determines whether you feel happy? In short, why do people do what they do? The brain plays a major role in these types of questions. The more we know about the brain, the more questions we can answer about how we function in our daily lives. That's why Radboud University, Radboudumc and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics are working together on this special study that aims to unravel the ‘thirties brain’.
What influences the brain?
During the Healthy Brain Study, we aim to monitor and test a thousand thirty to forty-year-old volunteers from Nijmegen and the surrounding area. We’re selecting people in their thirties because their brains are no longer developing whilst the aging process has yet to start. Moreover, this group often has to deal with important life events that affect their well-being such as a career, a burnout, buying a house, having children or getting a divorce.
What contributes to happiness & vitality?
The Healthy Brain Study will investigate which social, biological and environmental factors influence the brain. Scientists can use the results to conduct new studies to resolve social issues. These can involve questions such as: how can I identify and prevent an upcoming burnout? With this new knowledge, we hope to learn how people can become happier, fitter, more self-reliant and more productive. We also aim to contribute to a more sustainable and affordable healthcare system.
Everyone can contribute. You, your family and friends, employers and entrepreneurs can take part. We can, hereby, all make a valuable contribution to this unique research.
Explenation by Guillén Fernandez
Our project leader explains more about the study in this short film
Measures against Covid-19
The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the data acquisition phase. At that point, the HBS included 158 participants. Due to the lockdown, we cancelled all assessments involving physical interaction as of the 16th of March, 2020. The HBS restarted participant assessments on the 15th of July, 2020 in compliance with the directives in force in the Netherlands. As a result, some participants have more than four months between assessments. In addition, some participants collected less than three stool samples, because handling of stool samples was not feasible until December, 2020.
From March until July 2020, participants filled out an additional, monthly questionnaire addressing behavior and worries regarding COVID-19, currently experienced anxiety, stress, and wellbeing. Moreover, loneliness, sedentary behavior, and sleep quality were assessed. We used the same questionnaires as we use in the three repeated assessments.
Team science makes a difference!
For centuries, the individual, independent scientist – the genius – has been performing research on his own. However, nowadays, only focusing on this way of doing research is insufficient for resolving many questions of present-day science. Instead, we also need larger, systematic studies executed by teams of experts that go beyond collaborations between independent researchers. The Healthy Brain Study stimulates team science. Project leader Guillen Fernandez explains in his blog why we need this rebalancing towards ‘team science’ to achieve better results and better working conditions for the people involved.
Comprehension of complex systems – like the human brain - require an interdisciplinary, team science approach. The Healthy Brain Study rationale and design is the result of an orchestrated cross-campus process over the course of 22 months in which 250 scientists from alpha, beta, and gamma faculties were involved and were challenged to look past the horizons of their disciplines in large-scale meetings and several smaller working groups, all providing input to a multidisciplinary scientific board that made the final design decisions.