Sarah De Pue

Research project

Remembering to get some groceries, crossing the street in England, multi-tasking, searching a friend in a big crowd, … Whatever we want to do in daily life, some mechanism of control is needed to make sure we are able to filter out irrelevant information, maintain what is relevant, and inhibit inappropriate or automatic responses to achieve our goals in life. With aging however, several cognitive functions decline. Because of the aging of the population, I find it important to broaden the knowledge we have of the effect of age on cognitive control. For example, research has shown that healthy older people rely more on reactive control, a late correction mechanism of cognitive control, instead of using proactive control, which involves planning. This shift can affect every small thing in daily life, and thus, should be targeted in interventions. However, research is not clear yet about when this shift in cognitive control happens. Additionally, a lot of researchers focus only on one component of cognitive control, mostly inhibition, task switching or updating. To get a better understanding of cognitive control in healthy aging, we will target instead a wider set of subcomponents through several behavioral tasks in a longitudinal study. Eventually, it would be interesting to also take a closer look at this topic in clinical aging, and more specific, older adults with subjective cognitive decline or a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment.

(funded by FWO; “Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek – Vlaanderen”)

Promotor: Prof. Dr. Eva Van den Bussche (KU Leuven)
Co-promotor: Prof. Dr. Celine Gillebert (KU Leuven)
Co-promotor: Prof. Dr. Eva Dierckx (VUB)


Cognitive Control – Aging – Proactive/reactive control – Updating – Inhibition – Task switching


MSc in Theoretical and Experimental Psychology – Ghent University (2019)

    Master Thesis: The effect of aging on action control: initiation, adaptation, and inhibition (2019). Promotor: Prof. Dr. Wim Notebaert (Ghent University); Co-promotor: Dr. Marit Ruitenberg (Ghent University)

BSc in Psychology – Ghent University (2017)

Academic career

PhD Researcher (KU Leuven, Sept 2019 – Oct 2020)

PhD Researcher (FWO, Nov 2020 – present)

Internships and research visists

Erasmus+ Research Internship during my master at the lab of Prof. Dr. Nico Bunzeck, Institute of Psychology I (IPSY1), University of Lübeck, Germany (Sept 2018 – Feb 2019), about novelty and aging studied with EEG

Methoden van het wetenschappelijk onderzoek: Practicum (2de bachelor)


De Pue, S., Gillebert, C., Dierckx, E., Vanderhasselt, M.-A., De Raedt, R., & Van den Bussche, E. (2021). The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on wellbeing and cognitive functioning of older adults. Scientific Reports, 11, 4636. (DOI)


De Pue, S., Gillebert, C., Dierckx, E., Vanderhasselt, M.-A., De Raedt, R., & Van den Bussche, E. (2021, Feb). De impact van de COVID-19 pandemie op het welzijn en cognitief functioneren van ouderen. Oral presentation at the online 44ste Wintermeeting van de Belgische Vereniging voor Gerontologie en Geriatrie.

De Pue, S., Gillebert, C., Dierckx, E., Vanderhasselt, M.-A., De Raedt, R., & Van den Bussche, E. (2020, Nov). The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on cognitive functioning and wellbeing in older adults. Poster presentation at the virtual 61st Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society.


KU Leuven
Brain & Cognition
Tiensestraat 102
B – 3000 Leuven
office: 01.68
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