Nudge-it engages internationally leading experts in the neurobiology of motivational behaviour, the neuroscience of reward pathways, the neuroendocrinology of homeostatic regulation of appetite, experimental psychology, functional brain imaging, behavioural economics, and computational modelling. They will work together to develop new tools and approaches that can provide the evidence needed to inform effective policies on healthy eating. Effort will be focussed in four areas of particular importance for policy:
i) early life experience: how the choices we make as adults are influenced by stress and poor nutrition in early life.
ii) habitual eating behaviour: the life-long learning process and how it is moderated by homeostatic mechanisms;
iii) impulsive choice behaviour: the momentary choices we make to eat high energy or low energy foods, depending on hunger state and reward value, and upon price and availability;
iv) the role of environmental context in decision-making processes: how day-to-day choices and preferences are affected by socio-economic status, stress, and mood.
Development work will involve refinements of experimental approaches and tools in both human behavioural studies, neuroimaging, and translational animal studies. A focus will be on tools that provide ‘bridges’ that link understanding at different levels and in different domains, and which contribute to building predictive models with strong explanatory power that can contribute to policy formulation. A powerful strategy for dissemination of outcomes to relevant groups, including by a massive open online course, will ensure impact.