Courtney Neal: “Does Food Insecurity Affect Food-Related Cognition?”

In Students by General Account

Research has predominantly focussed on the negative outcomes of not having enough, producing a body of literature concerned with the deficits of people in poverty. Existing evidence does not tell us whether living in poverty can improve an individual’s performance on tasks which are ecologically relevant to the scarcities they are facing. Behavioural ecological theory suggests that this might be the case as behaviour can be adaptive to one’s environment. Supervised by Professor Daniel Nettle, Dr Gillian Pepper, and Dr Caroline Allen, my PhD project aims to identify whether food insecurity results in food-related cognitive adaptation.

This project builds on my MSc Psychology thesis project, which I worked on with Dr Gillian Pepper at Northumbria University. In my thesis, I investigated the relationship between hunger and performance on food-related memory tasks. Both my MSc and PhD projects have groundwork in behavioural ecology. This allows me to use existing knowledge and experience from my MBiol Biological Sciences degree at Durham University, in which my main focusses were behaviour, evolution and ecology.