A Neuro Perspective on Food Science

14 April 2020

It made perfect sense to Danni Peng-Li to combine neuroscience with food science, when he finished his Master’s degree in Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. Therefore, he took up a position as SDC PhD student at Department of Food Science at Aarhus University in January 2019.

By investigating the brain and consumer behavior, Danni Peng-Li looks into how sound affects our sensory and cognitive drivers of what we choose to eat, for example at a restaurant or at the supermarket.

From the beginning of his academic life, Danni Peng-Li directed his attention to food science and nutrition. He applied for Neuroscience and Neuroimaging at SDC, after he finished his bachelor focusing on how fish oil affects the biochemistry in the brain and children’s cognitive functions.

'I chose a Master from Neuroscience and Neuroimaging to add a technical perspective for further research in food science', Danni Peng-Li explains.

When time came for choosing a subject for his Master’s thesis, Danni Peng-Li seized the opportunity to move in the interdisciplinary field again. This time he looked into food addiction, which is both a mental and nutritional problem:

'In general, I think it is important we do more interdisciplinary research because different disciplines often study the same concepts. We might miss the potential of utilizing our different methods for a more optimal study design', Danni Peng-Li says.

Close to people and the industry

According to Danni Peng-Li, his research is easy to translate into praxis on a commercial and political level. In a marketing context, food science and neuroscience is useful to investigate consumer behavior. On a political level, Danni Peng-Li’s research can be used in context of a health aspect on how to nudge people to make healthier choices.

'My experience is that much basic research is needed in neuroscience because of its clinical relevance. Moreover, in relation to the applicability of the research, it generally goes a bit faster with research from food and sensory science. However, consumer psychology and our senses are related to the brain so it is very valuable to have the biometric and neuroscientific methods to compliment results from conventional consumer research', Danni Peng-Li explains.

Danni Peng-Li expects to finish his PhD study December 2021 and he plans to spend 12 months in China during his research period.