The Developing Brain


Course Objective

Students learn about neurobiological mechanisms that underlie normal and
aberrant brain development and thereby shape the life of individuals
over time.

Course Content

The brain performs differently at various ages; the young brain being
very plastic, whereas the aging brain is gradually losing its adaptive
capacity. Importantly, early and late brain development are affected by
specific genetic factors and vulnerable to changes induced by
environmental stimuli. These alterations can result in
neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.

The course consists of three modules (one week per module), each
covering a critical phase of brain development. In module 1, we will
focus on early (prenatal) brain development and its relation to brain
disorders such as autism and intellectual disability (amongst other
disorders). In the second module, we will focus on postnatal brain
development during childhood and adolescence and discuss issues related
to this phase of development, such as gender identity, schizophrenia and
the effects of drugs of abuse (alcohol, nicotine). In the last module,
we will discuss cognitive decline associated with normal brain aging as
well as specific diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's
disease. Notably, each module contains a keynote lecture related to the
topic of the module. Keynote lectures are given by invited guest
lecturers who are renowned experts in their fields. Attendance at
keynote lectures is mandatory.

Teaching Methods

Lectures (30 hours)
Workgroups (4 hours)
Q & A sessions (3 hours)

Method of Assessment

Exam (E; multiple choice questions and open questions): 80%
Academic skills assignment (A): 20%
The grade of both tests has to be >5.5 to pass the course.

Students have the option to resit the exam (E).


"Foundations Of Behavioral Neuroscience" by N.R. Carlson (Pearson
Education (US)), 8th edition.

Slides of lectures and associated reading material on Canvas.

Target Audience

Students of the minor Brain & Mind.
Third year bachelor students.

Additional Information

This minor course requires a minimum of 25 participants.

Recommended background knowledge

This course is part of the minor Brain and Mind. A basic understanding
of neurons, neurophysiology and molecular biology (DNA and proteins) is
required. For this, we recommend to follow the courses 'Cognitive
Neuroscience' and 'Nature versus Nurture' of this minor.

General Information

Course Code AB_1059
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 300
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. M.C. van den Oever
Examiner dr. M.C. van den Oever
Teaching Staff dr. M.C. van den Oever
prof. dr. S. Spijker
dr. R.E. van Kesteren
dr. R.M. Meredith
dr. H.K.E. Vervaeke

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Computer lab, Study Group, Lecture, Practical