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The Adolescent Brain


Entry requirements

Only after completing Developmental and Educational Psychology or a similar 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.

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?

  • What is the ‘social brain’? Which brain networks are involved in social and emotional functioning?

  • 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 timetables of your lectures, workgroups, and exams, select your study programme. Psychology timetables

Lectures Exams



Students need to register for lectures, workgroups and exams. Instructions for registration in courses for the 2nd and 3rd year


Elective students have to enroll for each course separately. For admission requirements contact your study advisor.

Exchange/Study abroad

For admission requirements, please contact your exchange coordinator.


Students are not automatically enrolled for an examination. They can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar days before the date; students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination. Registering for exams

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 open-end essay questions.

The Institute of Psychology uses fixed rules for grade calculation and compulsory attendance. 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. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of these three policies.

Reading list

Papers will be announced on Blackboard.

Contact information

Contact information
Bianca Westhoff, MSc.