Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Brain and Development

What is the relation between brain development and social and cognitive development across childhood, adolescence and adulthood?

Neeltje Blankenstein
The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)

The Brain and Development research center is located at the Institute of Psychology of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at Leiden University. Our lab explores the relations between brain development and social and cognitive development. A special focus of the lab is to investigate how brain development, including changes in function, structure, and connectivity, relates to typical and atypical development of cognitive control, emotions and risk-taking, and social decision-making.

Our research projects aim to examine the fundamental changes in brain function that underlie our ability to anticipate, produce and evaluate complex decisions in daily life. Our goals are to shed light on classic developmental questions related to mechanisms underlying developmental change, with a particular focus on the role of social and environmental influence, such as parent-child and peer interactions, on how brain development takes place.

We participate in the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC), which is an interfaculty center for interdisciplinary research on brain and cognition, supported by the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and the Faculties of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Humanities and Science of Leiden University. Within the LIBC, we are part of the LIBC-Junior hotspot.

Our primary research methods are experimental behavioural studies and brain imaging. Our studies involve functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), structural MRI (sMRI) and Diffusion Weighted Imaging (DWI) to address scientific questions. Our lab is also equipped with a 128 channel EEG station, an autonomic recordings station, eye-tracking equipment and shared use of a 3T MRI scanner, located at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC).

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