Cassandra J Lowe

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Cassandra J Lowe
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Alma materPsychologyfrom Brock University

Cassandra J. Lowe, PhD is a Canadian public health neuroscientist, specializing in understanding why some individuals have a hard time regulating "junk food" consumption. Dr.Lowe uses a multidimensional approach that combines repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), neuroimaging (EEG, fMRI, MRI) and aerobic exercise to create causal models linking brain health to dietary decisions and behaviours. She is currently a BrainsCAN Postdoctoral Fellow within The Brain and Mind Institute and Department of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario, working with J. Bruce Morton and r. Lindsay Bodell.


Cassandra J. Lowe received an undergraduate degree (Honours BA) in Psychologyfrom Brock University. After completing her BA, Lowe went on to complete her MSc and PhD in Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo, supervised by Peter A. Hall.[1]


Lowe's research seeks to understand why some individuals are more vulnerable to excessive food consumption [1], and how interventions, such as aerobic exercise [2], can be used to improve dietary choices. Her work has appeared in some of the most eminent scientific journals in public health and psychology, including The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, Psychosomatic medicine, and Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews|Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews [3].

Lowe's research has been integral in highlighting the critical role the prefrontal cortex plays in regulating snack food consumption, and how obesity can impact brain health and cognitive functions [4] . Her graduate was instrumental in establishing the causal relationship between activity in the prefrontal cortex and dietary behaviours in healthy young adults. Using inhibitory repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation to decrease activity in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, she was the first to demonstrate that individuals consume more snack foods when prefrontal activity is less than optimal, an effect that was mediated by decreased executive functions [5][6]. Critically, these findings were specific to the consumption of hyper-palatable, but nutritionally deprived "junk foods "(e.g., chocolate, potato chips). While Lowe used experimental methods to decrease brain activity, several everyday occurrences, such as acute stress, and sleep restriction, can temporarily reduce brain activity in the prefrontal cortex. Lowe's work has been instrumental in highlighting how these fluctuations in brain activity can increase the likelihood individuals will overindulge in appealing "junk foods", which over time, can increase for excessive adiposity and obesity. Her postdoctoral research has expanded this work to assess the environmental and social factors that influence brain development and self-regulation during adolescence. Other research interests include determining the shared and separate mechanisms driving overconsumption across clinical, subclinical, and healthy populations to develop a better understanding of why some people are more prone to dysregulated eating behaviours, and why some individuals prone to dysregulated eating behaviours develop clinical eating disorders and others do not.


Lowe has received several prestigious postdoctoral fellowships from BrainsCAN (Tier 1, 2017; Tier 2, 2019) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (2019). In 2014, Lowe won a Brain Star Award for her work demonstrating that decreased prefrontal activity predisposes healthy young adults to excessive food consumption [5].


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Research". Cassandra J. Lowe. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  2. Lowe, Cassandra J.; Kolev, Dimitar; Hall, Peter A. (2016-12-01). "An exploration of exercise-induced cognitive enhancement and transfer effects to dietary self-control". Brain and Cognition. Food for thought: The functional and neural mechanisms of food perception and choice. 110: 102–111. doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2016.04.008. ISSN 0278-2626.
  3. "Cassandra Lowe - Google Scholar". Retrieved 2020-09-18.
  4. Lowe, Cassandra J.; Reichelt, Amy C.; Hall, Peter A. (2019-04-01). "The Prefrontal Cortex and Obesity: A Health Neuroscience Perspective". Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 23 (4): 349–361. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2019.01.005. ISSN 1364-6613.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Lowe, Cassandra J.; Hall, Peter A.; Staines, William R. (September 2014). "The Effects of Continuous Theta Burst Stimulation to the Left Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex on Executive Function, Food Cravings, and Snack Food Consumption". Psychosomatic Medicine. 76 (7): 503–511. doi:10.1097/PSY.0000000000000090. ISSN 0033-3174.
  6. Lowe, Cassandra J.; Staines, William R.; Manocchio, Felicia; Hall, Peter A. (2018-08-15). "The neurocognitive mechanisms underlying food cravings and snack food consumption. A combined continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) and EEG study". NeuroImage. 177: 45–58. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.05.013. ISSN 1053-8119.

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