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The Adolescent Brain


Entry requirements

Only after completing Developmental and Educational Psychology or a similar course (only for students outside of the bachelor programme Psychology). Students outside of the bachelor programme Psychology (excl. minor and Exchange students) who have taken a similar course, need to contact the study advisers of Psychology to assess if they fullfil the entry requirements (deadline: 14 days before the start of the course).


This course aims to examine adolescent development from a neuroscientific perspective. Adolescence is a period of vast changes in the biological, cognitive, and social domains. During the seven lectures within this course we will focus on social, emotional, and cognitive changes across adolescence and their links with biological and neural development. The course will provide an introduction to social developmental neuroscience, with a special focus on structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging methods and brain development, and will further focus on the links between brain development and socio-emotional development across adolescence. Most recent models of brain development will be used to extend our knowledge of current theories of adolescent development and to inform our understanding of the mechanisms behind social and emotional changes in adolescence. By doing so, this course offers a unique neuroscience background to understanding child and adolescent development. This course (lectures) will be given in English.

The following fundamental questions will be examined during this course:

  • What are patterns of brain development across adolescence?

  • Which brain regions are related to increased sensitivity to affective and social influences across adolescence?

  • Which brain networks are involved in social, cognitive and emotional functioning? What is the ‘social brain’? How can we explain changes in (social) behaviour in adolescence, including prosocial behaviour and risk taking, by using mechanisms of brain development?

Course objectives

  • To explain adolescent development from a neuroscientific perspective, bridging neural and social-emotional and cognitive development

  • To use neuroscientific theories to explain adolescent behaviour

  • To critically evaluate experimental designs based on knowledge gained on neuroscience research methods


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.


You must register for each exam in My Studymap at least 10 days before the exam date. Don’t forget! For more information, see the enrolment procedure.
You cannot take an exam without a valid registration in My Studymap.

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

Students who take this course as part of a LDE minor or a premaster programme, exchange students and external guest students will be informed by the education administration about the current registration procedure.

Mode of instruction

7 2-hour lectures

Assessment method

The course grade will be determined by a final written examination. The written examination will be composed of approximately 40-50 multiple choice questions. These exam questions will be in English. The exam material will be the lectures and articles from the syllabus.

You will be informed about the method of exam review via Brightspace during the course.

The Institute of Psychology uses fixed rules for grade calculation. It also follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. All students are required to take and pass the Scientific Integrity Test with a score of 100% in order to learn about the practice of integrity in scientific writing. Students are given access to the quiz via a module on Brightspace. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of these two policies.

Reading list

Course syllabus including reading list will be announced on Brightspace

Contact information

Course coordinators: Dr. Lara Wierenga