research theme Cognitive Enhancement and Prevention

Cognitive Enhancement and Prevention

The research projects within the theme ‘Cognitive Enhancement and Prevention’ are focused on the improvement of cognitive abilities and the prevention of cognitive decline in healthy individuals.

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself throughout life. Based on our experiences, behaviors, thoughts and emotions, the connections within the brain are constantly becoming stronger or weaker, allowing the brain to adapt itself to changing environments.

Within this research theme, we use insights into the principles of neuroplasticity and methods from the field of cognitive neuropsychology to stimulate healthy brain development, improve cognitive functioning and build cognitive reserve in healthy children and adults. We aim to investigate the adaptive potential of the brain and design interventions to train and develop cognitive skills, such as self-regulation skills, that may provide a foundation for success, health and well-being in life.

Digitalization of society: Consequences for well-being and everyday cognitive functioning

Digitalization has changed society. On the one hand, digital technologies can improve people’s life as they provide better access to education, healthcare, information, and can contribute to social contacts. One the other hand, digital technologies can contribute to spreading of fake news, cyberbullying, depression, addiction to gaming and social media, and problems with privacy and trust. Concerns are growing about the influence of our smartphone habits and abundant (social) media exposure on our daily life functioning. Do we become more easily distracted, impatient and stressed by using mobile devices? Or do we become better in multitasking, information gathering and social connections? Maybe it’s both. The main aim of this project is to gain more insight into the impact of digital technologies on well-being and everyday cognitive functioning from the perspective of adolescents, parents and employees. Questionnaires will be used to collect data. The results of this project will be discussed in an advisory report for the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations.

Project duration: 15/03/2020 – 15/03/2021

Funded by: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations

Collaboration partners: Alliantie Digitaal Samenleven



Language Treasures

It is important that all children in the Netherlands have the opportunity to reach their full potential and lead a healthy and happy life. Good language development is a very important factor in achieving this. Talking and interacting with your child seems obvious, yet this is not the case for everybody. Certainly not in a digital society. Some parents do not know how important their role is; others do not have or take enough time. And others have doubts about their parent-child interaction skills.

The Language Treasures (Taalschatten) project aims to ensure that all 170,000 children annually born start school at the right language level. The goal is that all parents—from all backgrounds and educational levels—know that talking and interacting with their children is a prerequisite for the (brain) development of their children, just like nutrition, exercise, and sleep.

As a partner, Tilburg University is responsible for the development and evaluation of scientifically supported interventions aimed at increasing awareness of and knowledge about the effect of a rich language environment on the (brain) development and important success skills of young children (0–4 years old) in order to optimize the development of children in the first years of their life as a foundation for the rest of their life.

Collaboration Partners: This project is a collaboration between the Number 5 Foundation, Reading & Writing Foundation (Stichting Lezen en Schrijven), and Tilburg University. Together they are working on the realization of the mission. One of the necessary factors is to involve the ecosystem surrounding the young child including both public and private parties. Key players herein are general practitioners, pediatricians, midwives, childcare, and speech therapists. By working together with these parties, the project partners want to create a social movement to complete the mission.



The Strongest Link

The Strongest Link is a study into the economic self-reliance of families. It aims to break through generational poverty based on neuropsychological insights. As a partner, Tilburg University is responsible for evaluating the effects of the interventions on the economic self-reliance of families.

Tackling poverty is important because poverty poses a higher risk of developing health problems and may negatively impact people's long-term well-being. By teaching families executive skills, people can break the vicious circle of generational poverty, and children are offered a more successful and healthier future.

This research uses an approach that combines knowledge on the subject of poverty with insights from cognitive neuropsychology. It considers the effects of stress on the brain and cognitive skills and the ability of the brain to develop. This new approach is aimed at strengthening the socio-economic and cognitive fitness of families, in order to give them back control over their future and the future of their children. It consists of two parts: 1) Mobility Mentoring® is based on equality and is provided by a professional who contributes to people's more goal-oriented actions, 2) EFFECT-training consists of scientifically proven methodologies to train and develop both executive skills and the brain networks associated with these skills.

Project duration: 01/10/2020 – 01/10/2023

Funded by: Municipality of Waalwijk

Collaboration partners: The target groups of the study are families with financial problems in the municipality of Waalwijk, who would like to cooperate with a mentor. There will be close cooperation with social partners in the neighborhood, such as community teams, schools, and social institutions.