WP 1-6 Food choice in the elderly

Verarbeitung von olfaktorischen, gustatorischen und trigeminalen Reizen (Bildmaterial aus Lundström, J. N., Boesveldt, S.,Albrecht, J. (2011). Central Processing of the Chemical Senses: an Overview. ACS Chemical Neuro-science, 2(1), 5-16. doi:10.1021/cn1000843)

Hedonic food perception and food choice in the elderly

In light of the evolving demographic changes of our society and common nutritional deficits (malnutrition) in the elderly population, one of our major future challenges is the understanding of lifelong healthy aging. Since we experience our environment through multiple senses, which ultimately ensure our environmental safety, quality of life, and social adjustment it is of upmost interest to understand how multisensory integration processing changes as a function of healthy aging. Especially during the choice and consumption of food multisensory integration processes are of highest importance.

Within the proposed project we aim to use multisensory stimulation scenarios during which odors and trigeminal stimuli, but also tones and pictures are combined for the investigation of food perception. We want to shed light onto multisensory food perception and hedonic evaluation as well as the underlying processes in the human brain. Therefore, we will utilize functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in combination with sophisticated means of behavioral measures. With the help of those combined methods we will be able to tackle mechanisms of unconscious hedonic emotional processes during food choice and consumption. The gained knowledge renders the basis for an optimization of food products with regards to their sensory and physiological characteristics and thereby increases overall acceptance of food products. This is especially important for the elderly population that frequently suffers from malnutrition.


  1. Investigation of mechanisms of multisensory integration processes during unconscious hedonic evaluation and food perception, choice and consumption
  2. We use a novel approach of multisensory stimulation scenarios in order to create a unique and holistic percept comparable to what we perceive during everyday life
  3. Optimization of food products for the elderly with regards to their sensory and physiological characteristics
  4. Increase of acceptance and reduction of aversion towards those food products. In a longer perspective a higher acceptance of food products specifically tailored for the elderly will decrease malnutrition and malnutrition-related morbidity and mortality
Measure of attention by using eye tracking


[1] Seubert J et al. Neuroimage 2013; 66: 333-42.
[2] Seubert J et al. Cerebral Cortex 2013; 23: 2448-56.
[3] Brünner Y et al. JCEM 2013; 98(10): E 1626-30.
[4] Freiherr J et al. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 2013; 7: 863.
[5] Albrecht J et al. Clin Neuroradiology 2010; 20(4): 223-9.

Coordinating Investigator

Jun.-Prof. Dr. rer. biol. hum. Jessica Freiherr (nee Albrecht)

Fraunhofer-Institut für Verfahrenstechnik und Verpackung IVV
Analytische Sensorik

Tel.:     +49 (0)8161 491 302
Email:  jessica.freiherr[at]ivv.fraunhofer.de


Sonja Blankenagel, M.Sc.

Frauenhofer Institut für Verfahrenstechnik
und Verpackung IVV
Analytische Sensorik

Tel.:    +49 (0)8161 491 487
Email: sonja.blankenagel[at]ivv.fraunhofer.de


Dr. rer. nat. Timo Schirmer

GE Global ResearchZentralniederlassung der General Electric Deutschland Holding GmbHDiagnostics, Imaging and Biomedical Technologies Garching

Tel.:    +49 (0)89 55283 722
Email: timo.schirmer[at]ge.com

Prof. Dr. Dr. rer. nat.
Thomas Hofmann

Technische Universität München
Lehrstuhl für Lebensmittelchemie
und molekulare Sensorik
ZIEL Institute for Food and Health
Freising - Weihenstephan

Tel.:    +49 (0)8161 71 2902
Email: thomas.hofmann[at]tum.de

Prof. Dr. med. Hans Hauner

Technische Universität München
Klinikum rechts der Isar
Else Kröner-Fresenius-Zentrum für Ernährungsmedizin
Uptown Campus D

Tel.:      +49 (0) 89 289 249 11
Email:  hans.hauner[at]tum.de