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Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience


Entry requirements

Open to MSc Psychology (research) students


Developmental cognitive neuroscience investigates the relations between brain development and cognitive, affective and social development. This class will cover the biological bases of cognitive and affective functioning from a developmental perspective, focusing on childhood and adolescence. Fundamental questions that will be covered include: How does brain development, including changes in function, morphology, and connectivity, relate to typical and atypical development of cognitive and affective functions, such as learning, social development and decision-making?

Course objectives

Explore relevant theoretical debates in developmental science and neuroscience methods used to address the relevant questions in this field. Consideration of the major methods of developmental cognitive neuroscience, with a focus on (functional) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and behavioral marker tasks. We will devote particular attention to the unique challenges and research considerations of applying these methods to the study of children and adolescents. Other course objectives are to gain proficiency with leading a 'journal club' paper discussion, gaining knowledge of preregistration, and writing of an in-depth research proposal on a topic relevant to the field of developmental cognitive neuroscience.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable



Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.


It is mandatory for all students to register for each exam and to confirm registration for each exam in My Studymap. This is possible up to and including 10 calendar days prior to the examination. You cannot take an exam without a valid pre-registration and confirmation in My Studymap. Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Exchange students and external guest students will be informed by the education administration about the current registration procedure.

Mode of instruction

Class sessions will usually consist of a lecture period discussing a specific research topic in the DCN field, followed by a student-led journal club or an in-class assignment. To facilitate discussion, students should prepare questions that arose for them while reading the week’s material and answer questions about these readings beforehand. Student groups will be arranged, and each group will be responsible for co-leading one or more journal clubs. In addition, a written research proposal is due at the final class.

Assessment method

The assessment for this course is based on:

  • Class preparation and participation: Come to class having done all of the readings, and having completed a brief written assignment, 20%;

  • Presenting: Give a presentation of your own research proposal, 20%;

  • Paper: A research proposal (including a brief preregistration of the proposted study) on the topic of your choice in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 60%.

The Institute of Psychology follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of this fraud policy.

Reading list

All readings (journal articles) will be made available for download on the course blackboard website. Exemplary literature list Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

  • Kilford, E. J., Garrett, E., & Blakemore, S. J. (2016). The development of social cognition in adolescence: An integrated perspective. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 70, 106-120.

  • Somerville, L. H. (2016). Searching for signatures of brain maturity: what are we searching for?. Neuron, 92(6), 1164-1167.

  • Sherman, L., Steinberg, L., & Chein, J. (2018). Connecting brain responsivity and real-world risk taking: Strengths and limitations of current methodological approaches. Developmental cognitive neuroscience, 33, 27-41.

Contact information

Dr. A.C.K. van Duijvenvoorde