Research in the lab examines the development of cognitive, emotional and social decision-making using cognitive neuroscience methods. Click on the topics on the right to get a short overview of our studies.


The social brain in adolescence

Adolescence is a period of important social changes, during which the formation and maintenance of peer relationships is one of the most important developmental tasks. During this period peer relationships become more diverse and complex.  Furthermore, during this developmental period the ability to switch between perspectives becomes more advanced.  This perspective taking has implications for the way we express concern for others, but also for our sensitivity to opinions of others.

Within this research line, we investigate behavior in social interactions with peers, perspective taking and sensitivity to peer rejection and their links with brain development using experimental paradigms adopted from social and economic psychology (economic games). Our studies focus on how peers affect adolescents’ decision‐making process in negative (i.e., increased risk taking) as well as positive (i.e., prosocial behavior and positive learning) ways. Our studies cover a broad age range (8-25) and focus on dyadic peer relationships (e.g., friendships and antipathies) as well as peer status (e.g., popular or rejected status) in the peer group





Longitudinal brain development (Brain Time):

DTI-sideOne of the main challenges of developmental cognitive neuroscience studies is to track changes in brain and behavior longitudinally. Within this research line we are currently investigating developmental changes in childhood, adolescence and emerging adulthood in three domains: cognitive control, impulse regulation and social-emotional functions. The part which focuses on cognitive control examines changes in learning and learning strategies. Impulse regulation is investigated by means of risk taking, delay of gratification and impulsive aggression. The part in which social-emotional development is examined, focuses on reward processing and prosocial behavior. All functions are examined in relation to structural brain development (gray matter density and white matter tracts) and the role of gonadal hormones. Using multi-level models of change, we are testing changes in developmental trajectories over time. In addition, we test how brain structure and function predict future academic and social outcomes (for more information see www.juniorhersenen.nl/braintime).



Leiden Consortium on Individual Development (L-CID):

LCIDThe general aim of the Leiden Consortium on Individual Development (L-CID) is to dissect the reason why not all children are equally responsive to variations in the social environment. Large-scale experimental-longitudinal interventions of parent and peer behavior will be carried out, allowing for testing of which child characteristics shape the effect of (manipulated) environmental factors.


The L-CID constitutes a collaboration between Developmental and Educational Psychology (Prof. Eveline Crone) and the Departments of Child and Family Studies (Prof. Marinus van Ijzendoorn and Prof. Marian Bakermans-Kranenburg), of Leiden University and the Radboud University Nijmegen (Prof. Rutger Engels). See: www.samen-uniek.com

L-CID is part of the National Consortium on Individual Development (CID) which aims to understand and predict how the interplay of child characteristics and environmental factors results in individual differences in the development of social competence and behavioral control of the child. The consortium involves researchers from Utrecht University (applying university), Leiden University, University of Amsterdam, University of Groningen, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Radboud University Nijmegen, and VU University Amsterdam. The consortium has been funded a ‘Gravitation’ subsidy by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) was realizing the selection procedure at the request of the Ministry. For more information about CID, see: www.individualdevelopment.nl






Research methods

Our primary research methods are experimental behavioral 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).