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Developmental Clinical Neuroscience


NB Language of instruction is English

Admission requirements

This course is obligatory for students in de Master’s specialization Applied Neuroscience in Human Development.
Students in the Research Master Developmental Psychopathology in Education and Child Studies can course this course in their Profile.


Social and behavioral development / functioning are highly dependent on genetic make-up, neuro-anatomical, neurobiological and environmental factors. These factors may exert their influence directly or indirectly, via, for example, cognitive processes. It is important to learn in more detail about the mechanisms through which social and behavioral problems might develop, as they might also provide tools for prevention and intervention schemes, regardless of whether these are pharmacological or behavioral in nature.

The main aim of this course is to elucidate genotype-endophenotype-phenotype pathways to developmental psychopathology. Attention will be given to several genetic disorders and a number of important risk factors influencing susceptibility to developmental psychopathology. Specifically, the course will include sessions on Neurofibromatosis Type 1, Phenylketonuria, Tyrosinemia Type 1, Substance (Ab-)use, and Perinatal Risk Factors. As you will have noted well-known forms of psychopathology, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, Aggression and Antisocial Behavior, appear to be missing. This is not the case. In this course these are considered phenotypic expressions of cognitive and neurobiological defects (the endophenotype), caused by genetic abnormalities and/or environmental factors.

Course objectives

The following objectives apply with regard to the content of the course:

1) Increase understanding of the methodological approaches commonly used in brain-behavior research
2) Develop the capacity to identify a theoretical framework suitable for addressing relevant problems and issues in brain-behavior research
3) Gain advanced, up to date knowledge of research findings in selected neurodevelopmental disorders
4) Further develop the ability to critically select and analyze literature relevant to the brain-behavior research presented by the curriculum and the connected research programs
5) Further develop the capacity to report independently about relevant research that has been carried out according to current academic standards
6) Further improve the ability to present in English and write scientific reports in English


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable

Mode of instruction

2-hour seminars (weekly). Each course meeting will address a particular topic (generally a specific neurodevelopmental disorder or a specific environmental risk factor affecting cognitive and social development). Literature comprises several international journal articles, for which links are provided by the instructor. Each seminar will offer a presentation by the instructor as well as student presentations. The number of student presentations per seminar will depend on the number of enrolments. Based on past experience, there will probably be three student presentations per session.

Students will be assigned a presentation slot by the instructor and they will each present on one article provided by the instructor. Articles, which students divide among themselves for the presentations, will focus on 1) Pathophysiology, 2) Cognitive-Behavioral Phenotype, or 3) Treatment & Intervention of a specific neurodevelopmental disorder or a specific environmental risk factor. Active participation in the discussion following the presentations is required. All presentation-slides should be placed on Brightspace on the day of the presentation at the latest.

Students will conclude the course by writing a paper on a neurodevelopmental disorder or an environmental risk factor affecting cognitive and social development, including summaries of the same three aspects emphasized in the presentations. Paper and presentation are on different disorders/risk factors. It is allowed to write your paper on a neurodevelopmental disorder/environmental risk factor other than those discussed during the course, conditional on the instructor’s approval. In this case, the structure should be the same: 1) Pathophysiology; 2) Cognitive-Behavioral Phenotype; 3) Treatment & Intervention as for a ‘regular’ paper. For ‘regular’ papers literature provided as course material may be used, but students have to find additional literature as well. For topics that did not feature in the course, students will have to find all literature for their paper themselves.

Presence during the seminars is mandatory. It is allowed to miss one class without repercussions. When 2 classes are missed, the assignment is to write a summary (2-3 pages) on one of the two missed classes (which may not be the paper-topic of the student). Students can use the presentations and literature on Brightspace for this purpose. When >2 classes are missed, students can no longer achieve a “pass”-mark for the course.

Assessment method

Seminars (presentations, approximately 20 minutes pp, plus 5-10 minutes question time after each presentation and discussion after all the session’s presentations): 30% of final grade for Research Masters; 40% for ANHD-masters.
Especially noticeable active participation can result in 1 point added to the student’s presentation grade. Especially noticeable inactive participation can result in 1 point deducted from the student’s presentation grade.

Paper (max. 6 to 8 pages, excluding title page and reference list, line intervals 1.5): 60% of final course grade. Please note that there is no opportunity to rewrite the paper unless the course coordinator grades it as insufficient (≤ 5.5). If a new version is required the paper cannot be graded higher than average (grade = 6). In order to get the opportunity to rewrite the paper, a first version of the paper is required by its assigned deadline.
All assignments will be graded by the course instructor


During this course Brightspace is used.

Reading list

Links to scientific articles are provided on Brightspace by the instructor.


It is mandatory to register for each course via uSis. This applies to both the lectures and the working groups, even if they take place online. Without a valid registration in uSis you will not be able to participate in the course and you will not have access to the Brightspace module of the course.

In addition, it is also mandatory to register separately in uSis for each exam (i.e. both the first exam opportunity and, if necessary, the resit) in uSis. This also applies to partial examinations in a course. This is possible up to 10 calendar days prior to the exam. You cannot take the exam without a valid registration in uSis.

NB If the exam concerns a paper or a practical assignment, you do not need to register in uSis.

Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

NB The exam of this course is a paper. This means that you do not have to register yourself for this exam in uSis.

Contact information

Co-ordinator of this course is Dr. S.C.J. Huijbregts