Combining nutrients that act synergistically and have potential to lower postprandial glycaemia is an important dietary strategy that can reduce the risk of developing non-communicable diseases. Within a starch-based food matrix, like bread, the presence of bioactive compounds (polyphenols and carotenoids) can lower or delay starch digestion, and therefore the postprandial glycaemic response. This shows potential for development of bioactive-rich starchy foods, as an alternative to conventional high-glycaemic foods. Variations in dose, form and processing can result in bioactive-rich functional foods with different glycaemic potencies, thus further studies are needed to determine the role of polyphenols and carotenoids from tomato during digestion. The aim of this project is to determine the impact of polyphenols and carotenoids from tomato (naringenin and lycopene, respectively) on nutrient accessibility and impact on glycaemia. I will investigate the interaction of naringenin and lycopene from an organically grown tomato paste enriched with tomato skin, previously developed by the host group, with starch and starchy foods. Nutrient release from a food matrix and digestion will be measured in vitro at a micro- and macrostructural level, using a single-enzyme digestion system and the INFOGEST standardised static digestion model. To determine the effect of naringenin and lycopene on glycaemia, I will use biological samples from healthy study participants collected before and after 4-week intake of tomato enriched paste, from an ongoing dietary intervention study in the host group. The use of tomato by-products (skin) is a sustainable option to fortify foods, providing added value to scraps without post-harvest extraction of bioactive compounds. Results from this study will provide new mechanistic insight into how tomato bioactive compounds modulate starch digestion and new fundamental evidence on their influence on glycaemia.
More and more Europeans acquire a second language (L2) during adulthood. However, people greatly differ in their learning success across different learning settings, such as phone apps or in-class. Due to its key role in acquiring our first language during childhood, social interaction might also play an important and underappreciated role in L2 learning. Nevertheless, understanding the role and underlying processes of social interaction in L2 learning has been hindered so far by an enormous technical hurdle: natural social settings have to be translated into the controlled lab environment. With this project, we aim to use a novel approach, combining social cognition, neurolinguistics and ecological valid virtual reality (VR) to tackle this hurdle for the first time. We will design VR environments in which we can control the type of social interaction and the social agent with whom the participant interacts. This will allow us to determine all relevant factors of social interaction that benefit L2 learning success in a natural, yet controlled setting. Furthermore, we will overcome the challenge of combining the VR experience with simultaneous brain measures in the form of electroencephalography (EEG), as well as psychophysical (pupilometry and eye movements) and behavioral measures. This will enable us to measure the effects of social interaction on different cognitive levels and with different temporal resolutions. Our team associates renowned experts in neurolinguistics, L2 learning, social cognition and VR to ensure this project’s success. Furthermore, we will collaborate with a tech company to translate our results to a marketable product, targeted at immigrants who wish to acquire Catalan and Spanish. In sum, our project combines multiple disciplines and state-of-the-art techniques such as VR and EEG to finally gain insight into what is likely one of the most important drivers of language learning: social interaction.