Brain Health Food to Benefit Cognitive Functions

Advancing Nutritional Neuroscience

At Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


Healthy food for brain and memory.

About Us

Based at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, our research investigates the impact of nutrients, extracts and whole foods on brain function and psychological health and well-being. A key question of our work asks how can diet and nutrition support optimal brain health across the lifespan.

Our Capabilities

Our lab facilities were purpose-built for the testing of nutritional interventions in humans and we do so in accordance with good clinical practice (GCP) guidelines. Our 4 large testing labs contain individual testing desks which are divided to allow visual isolation from other participants.

Cognitive testing via COMPASS

The Computerised Mental Performance Assessment System (COMPASS) is a user-friendly platform for delivering cognitive tasks. See further details about the system below.

Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS)

NIRS is a non-invasive neuroimaging technique, using infrared light to monitor cerebral blood flow. We have 2 NIRS systems: Continuous wave and frequency domain 'quantitative' NIRS.

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Observed Multitasking Stressor

The OMS combines observation (by two researchers) with multi-tasking (verbal serial subtraction and tracking task), to provoke a physiological response as assessed by heart rate and GSR, and increased subjective ratings of stress.

Indirect calorimetry

Oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide production can be measured from expired pulmonary air using our on-line gas analysis system and this data used to calculate total energy expenditure, fat and carbohydrate metabolism.

Trans-cranial doppler sonography (TCD)

TCD is a non-invasive method of measuring cerebral blood flow velocity from the basal intra-cerebral vessels through the intact skull. TCD can be combined with other neuroimaging devices such as NIRS.

NUTRAN brings together world leading expertise and state of the art facilities across six labs within Northumbria University. Visit the NUTRAN website for more information.

Our key area of expertise is assessing the effects of nutritional supplements on cognitive function in humans; from children through to older adults. We do this using our own task delivery system COMPASS.

COMPASS currently comprises over 20 cognitive tasks; many based on traditional assessments, which measure attention, vigilance, working-, spatial- and secondary memory, executive function, mood and tasks which induce cognitive demand. COMPASS tasks have been well validated, with hundreds of published journal articles evidencing their sensitivity to a range of nutritional interventions.

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A smart-phone cognitive and mood assessment application, which allows participants to complete assessments outside of the laboratory during nutritional supplementation period.

Our excellent facilities and resources are designed to meet the high demands required for fully auditable controlled-trial research.

Studies currently recruiting

We have the following exciting research participation opportunities available:

Whey Study


Adults aged 25-49 years


To investigate the effects of dairy phospholipids in the form of a bioactive whey protein concentrate drink on cognitive function and mood.


You will need to attend a virtual screening session, followed by four

sessions in our Newcastle City Centre lab.

You will receive £150 upon completion of the study.

This study has been approved by the University Ethical Approval System (5131 & 5201) at Northumbria University.


Botanicals Study


Adults aged 18-45 years


To investigate the effects of beverages containing botanical extracts on cognitive function and mood.


You will need to attend a virtual screening session, followed by five

sessions in our Newcastle City Centre lab.

You will receive £280 upon completion of the study.

This study has been approved by the University Ethical Approval System (5790) at Northumbria University.


If you are not eligible or able to take part in any of these current studies please be advised we will have other studies in the near future.

To make sure you are kept up to date about new projects you can sign up to our participant database and we will contact you when new studies start. Use the link below to sign up.

Sign up to the participant database

We store all information in accordance with GDPR regulations and will remove your details, at any time, upon request. We will only use the information you provide to contact you about Northumbria University research studies and will not pass on these details to any third party organisations.


The BPNRC has an extensive publication history, encompassing the last 20 years, below is a selection of some of our recent key papers. Our full publication list is also included below.


Haskell, C., Jackson, P., Forster, J., Laverick, B., & Sutherland, K. (2015). Cocoa flavanols increase cerebral haemoglobin levels acutely during cognitive task performance in healthy young adults. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 67(Sup. 1), 400-401.

Haskell CF, Kennedy DO (2013) Vitamins, Cognition, and Mood in Healthy Nonelderly Adults. In Scholey AB (Ed) Advances in Natural Medicines, Nutraceuticals and Neurocognition. Taylor Francis, pp 105-136

Kennedy DO (2009) Herbs affecting the Central Nervous System. In (Eds) Mukherjee PK, Houghton PJ. Evaluation of Herbal Medicinal Products – Perspectives of Quality, Safety and Efficacy, Pharmaceutical Press, Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London, UK

Kennedy DO (2002) The effects of Ginseng on memory and mood. In Nam-In Baek (Ed) Advances in Ginseng Research 2002. The Korean Society of Ginseng. Seoul. Korea

Scholey AB, Parrott A, Kennedy DO (2007) Psychotropic Medicine. In Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health & Medicine (Ed. Ayers S) 685-687

Research collaborators and funders

Contact Us

The Brain, Performance & Nutrition Research Centre

Northumberland Building

Northumbria University

Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST, United Kingdom

(+44) 0191 243 7257

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