Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Laura Steenbergen

Assistant Professor

Dr. L. Steenbergen
+31 71 527 3875

Laura Steenbergen investigates the microbiota-gut-brain-axis and the influence of this axis on mental processes and experiences.

More information about Laura Steenbergen

Laura Steenbergen investigates the microbiota-gut-brain-axis and the influence of this axis on mental processes and experiences. 


Laura Steenbergen mainly investigates the microbiota-gut-brain-axis and the influence of this axis on mental processes and experiences. For example, she investigates whether, and potentially how, the composition of gut microbiota (i.e. gut flora), and interventions such as pro- and antibiotics , influence the way people feel and behave. She also examines the role of the vagus nerve in experiencing emotions and making decisions. In a wider perspective, Laura is interested in wellbeing and in research into vulnerability and prevention in relation to mental complaints. She has a passion for openness and 'unexpected views': she likes to bring disciplines, that look very different on first glance, together, to contibute to scientific and public knowledge. Next to her research, Laura provides education and supervision for Psychology bachelor and master students, and for the post master program to become a clinical psychologist (RINO). Furthermore, she loves to interact t with a wider audience hrough (public) lectures and media and often acts as a sounding board for topics such as (scientific) integrity and social safety.


Laura studied Psychology at Leiden University, where she also obtained her PhD in  Cognitive Psychology (more specific: Cognitive Enhancement) in 2016. In her PhD research, she focused on the influence of brain stimulation and dietary supplements on (social) cognitive skills. After her PhD, she received a "Amsterdam Brain and Cognition Talent Grant" that allowed her to further deepen her research on the microbiota-gut-brain axis, the mechanisms in this axis, and its implications for mental well-being. In 2018, she went to Ohio State University to investigate the influence of the vagus nerve on the microbiota-gut-brain axis, and in 2019 she worked as a visiting scholar at the Oxford Center for Emotion and Affective Neuroscience to investigate the influence of pro- and antibiotics on cognitive and affective processing. Simultaneously, Laura started as an associate professor in Clinical Psychology at Leiden University, where she continued the research metioned above. For her work she received several (popular) scientific grants, awards and nominations, such as a NWO Veni grant ("Mind the Microbes!") in 2019  and the" Young Scientist award" from the European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

Grants and Prizes

  • 2019: Leids Universiteits Fonds Gratama-Stichting project grant ("The microbiota-gut-brain axis in preventing stress-related disorders: antibiotics, cytokine activity, and cognitive reactivity to emotion").
  • 2018: Nederlandse organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Veni beurs ("Mind the Microbes! Toward an understanding of the human microbiota-gut-brain axis and its potential for promoting mental health").
  • 2017: Nederlandse organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek ZonMw Enabling Technologies Hotels Public-Private Hotel grant ("Understanding gut feelings: Metabolomics insight in the effects of probiotics on cognitive functioning and mental well-being")
  • 2017: Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie van Wetenschappen van der Gaag beurs (on behalf of a work visit to Ohio State University)
  • 2017: Amsterdam Brain and Cognition Talent Grant ("Understanding gut feelings: Probiotics and Cognition)

Assistant Professor

  • Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen
  • Instituut Psychologie
  • Klinische Psychologie

Work address

Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden
Room number 2B31



  • DeSpreker.nl Publieke lezingen
  • Stichting Mind Mood Microbes Voorzitter bestuur
This website uses cookies.  More information.