MOCIA Consortium meeting 2023: Invoke connections

October 10, 2023

Written by Mark van Loenen, MOCIA PhD student at Radboud University/Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour

On Tuesday September 26th, the annual MOCIA consortium meeting has taken place again! PhD students, senior researchers, and associated partners from across the country have once again used this opportunity to connect, share progress updates, and explore further possible collaborations between MOCIA colleagues.

This year the consortium meeting was hosted by OnePlanet Research Center in Nijmegen. Firstly, we gathered at the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (DCCN), which is the home-base for many WP3 MOCIA colleagues and a stone’s throw away from the OnePlanet Research Center. Here we received an opening talk from MOCIA project-leader Esther Aarts in the characteristically named ‘Red Room’. Together, we stood still and reflected on the loss of Wilma Steegenga, our dear colleague from Wageningen University. We all feel that we can honour Wilma by our advancements with MOCIA, a project that was very near and dear to her and in which she found incredible enjoyment to work on.

The project advancements and updates were presented for each of the five work packages The study centres associated with FINGER-NL (WP1) and HELI (WP3) were able to tell us about their successful recruitment which has resulted in the completion of all baseline data collection; an enormous effort! WP2 was able to tell us more about the specific data models that were being worked on by their PhD students, WP4 told us about the review papers currently being finalised and the status of the research being conducted regarding participant experiences, and WP5 told us more about how they are going to utilise the results from the other WPs to research their implication and implementation in today’s society.

After each presentation the public had the opportunity to ask some questions via the legendary ‘catch-and-speak-up-box’ from the Donders Institute.

Next up followed a talk by guest speaker Martin van Boxtel from Maastricht University, who provided us with an engaging and thoroughly interesting talk regarding brain development throughout different life stages (from early life to adulthood and old age). The topics discussed during Martin’s talk were of great relevance to the entire consortium, given the collective goal of MOCIA.

After Martin’s presentation we all headed to Mercator II on Campus where OnePlanet Research Center Nijmegen resides to enjoy an extensive lunch. Whilst enjoying lunch, attendees were able to walk for a concurrently running poster session with posters and presenters from WP’s across MOCIA.

The goal of the poster session was for each presenter to go into more detail of the specifics of their research studies, and thereby more accurately explain the interesting work being done, gain input and connect with others to identify possible collaborations.

After the poster session followed a presentation given by the director of health of OnePlanet, Thea van Kemenade. During this presentation, we were introduced to a plethora of technological advancements aimed to improve the way we can investigate specific health-related issues, such as a pill which is able to conduct accurate and gut-related measurements whilst passing the gastro-intestinal tract after ingestion.

To conclude: it was a very productive and insightful day! Given the magnitude of the MOCIA programme it is a great incentive to have an annual gathering and invoke (or revoke!) the connections with fellow MOCIA colleagues. After all, we are all working together to ‘Maintaining Optimal Cognitive Functioning in Ageing’!

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