Logo Universiteit Utrecht

Vacatures FSW

Onderzoeken en Stages

TNO stage/these Alcohol, welzijn en cognitie

Alcohol consumption, well-being, and cognition

“a real-life study in 800 Dutch students”


Brains develop until the age of 24. There is limited scientific data on the effect of (moderate) alcohol consumption on brain functioning in young adults (18-24 years). Several studies in adolescents show that long-term excessive alcohol consumption negatively affects memory and learning (Brown et al, 2000). On the other hand, research shows that moderate alcohol consumption does not affect certain aspects of cognitive performance in young adulthood and that moderate alcohol consumption may protect against dementia/Alzheimer in later life (Ruitenberg et al, 2002; Stampfer et al, 2005).

The proposed project is part of a currently running study called ABC-study (alcohol-brain-cognition-study). The main goal of the ABC study is to better describe the relationship between levels of alcohol consumption and cognitive performance and wellbeing in young adults.

Currently, 800 students have completed a monthly diary in which they reported on their alcohol intake and well-being. After that month, they completed online cognitive tests tapping into a number of cognitive constructs such as memory, planning, and reasoning.

One year later, participants are once again asked to report their alcohol intake and well-being for a month and at the end complete the same set of online cognitive tests.

Primary research aim:

To assess the relationship between alcohol consumption, well-being, and cognition in 800 Dutch students.

Secondary: To assess the validity of online cognitive testing compared to laboratory cognitive testing

Workplan & desired skills

For this project, both a research thesis and an internship are possible. All will be decided in agreement and after discussion with TNO.

Steps in the project:

  • Cross sectional data analysis: The student will be involved in an interim analysis of the currently already collected data (n = 800).

Affinity with data handling in excel or other spreadsheets with data analysis (e.g. regression analyses, ANOVA, etc) is important.

  • Validation study: The student will set up and coordinate a small laboratory study with 30 participants, who are currently already in the study. This includes 30 short 45 min. sessions of laboratory testing.

Experience in conducting studies with human volunteers is desired.

  • Ongoing data collection: the student will assist in the second wave (i.e. 1 year follow-up) of online data collection. This includes answering participant questions, reminding participants to complete the questions and tests, arranging participant remuneration, and providing data updates to the team.

An active, creative and committed attitude is preferred. Proficiency in Dutch language is important.

Student participation

For this project we are looking for (an) enthusiastic student(s), dedicated to make this multidisciplinary project successful. You will collaborate with a TNO researcher working on the project and perform most of the abovementioned techniques yourself. Your participation in project meetings is appreciated.

What TNO has to offer

TNO is the largest Dutch applied research organization. Working at the intersection of science, innovation, application, and market TNO is a very inspiring place.

Further, for the research thesis student, a declaration of good behavior (Verklaring Omtrent Gedrag) has to be arranged together with TNO. A monthly internship reimbursement is available for internal students.

Project location:

The intern student will be mainly based at the Uithof, with occasional guided visits to TNO, Zeist, Utrechtseweg 48.

The research thesis student will be mainly working/located at TNO, Zeist, Utrechtseweg 48.

Laboratory testing is likely to take place either at the Uithof (Utrecht), TNO Zeist or TNO Soesterberg.

Contact details Dr. K. Hogenelst, koen.hogenelst@tno.nl, tel 06-31667633 (TNO intern: 61785), Microbiology and Systems Biology.

Deadline/Start date:      – Internship: August / start of September 2017;

– Research thesis: as soon as possible, but no later than end October 2017

ECTS: depending on internship or (length of) research thesis


TNO, microbiologie en systeembiologie


Dr. Koen Hogenelst