Full course description
In this course, students will be introduced to the innovative and ’mind-blowing’ field of developmental neuropsychology.
The anatomy of the brain and relevant brain functions will be introduced at the beginning of the module. Through case studies students will explore the fundamental research and the most recent advances in the field. Students will endeavour to find solutions to the questions presented by researching various articles and group discussion. For example, why is there a change in the ability to discriminate between human faces and monkey faces in babies of 12 months? And why is this difference not present at 6 months?
Cognitive development is typically measured by changes or improvements in cognitive processes. In this course, topics such as language, executive functions and the impact of traumatic brain injury will be explored in terms of their developmental trajectory and how this trajectory relates to changes in the maturing brain. We will examine how these developmental changes can be measured by various neurological methods (e.g. fMRI and EEG).
The field trip included in the course focuses on the importance of neuroscientific research methods and forms a unique and practical insight into the subject matter. Students will also construct their own research proposal on a topic of choice that has a clear connection to developmental psychology and neuroscientific methods. Students conclude the course with a final exam.
Disclaimer: trips and visits related to the course are conditional. E.g. Dutch travel advice should be positive regarding the region that will be visited and institutions should be able to accept visitors. In case a proposed trip or visit cannot continue due to circumstances, alternatives may be organized.
This course consists of 32 class hours divided over 7-8 weeks. Students earn 6 ECTS credits when they obtain a passing grade. Students who need more credits can sign up for the extended course format, which includes an Independent Study Project (ISP) worth an additional 3 ECTS. The maximum number of credits that can be obtained is 9 ECTS.
By the end of the course students will have developed a deeper understanding of:
- Knowledge about the major brain structures, functions, neuronal activation and important terminology for viewing the brain.
- Knowledge about how to research the developing brain (methods and designs).
- The general development of the human brain (structural development prenatal and postnatal into young adulthood).
- The influence of experience on the brain, especially regarding language and face processing.
- The effect of infant directed speech on brain activity and its relevance for development.
- Differences in the development of the brain regarding language (especially dyslexia and bilingualism).
- Different brain areas relevant for the development of inhibitory control.
- The adolescent brain and implications for the development of social cognition.
- Students will become familiar with the basics of developmental research and neuroscientific research methods.
- Students will individually write a research proposal and present this proposal.
At least one 200-level Psychology course. It is recommended that the students have an interest in the development of the human brain and cognitive development. An interest in scientific research and methods is also recommended.
A minimum of 5 students is required for the class to take place.
Various articles and literature sources will be used to address the different topics of this course. To provide an impression see the literature recommendations below for the first Applied Knowledge Lecture in the course:
- Brain Development p. 102-115 in: Siegler, R. S., DeLoache, J. S., & Eisenberg, N. (2003). How children develop. Macmillan.
- Casey, B. J., Tottenham, N., Liston, C., & Durston, S. (2005). Imaging the developing brain: what have we learned about cognitive development?. Trends in cognitive sciences, 9(3), 104-110.
- Maurer, D., & Werker, J. F. (2014). Perceptual narrowing during infancy: A comparison of language and faces. Developmental Psychobiology, 56(2), 154-178.
- Zangl, R., & Mills, D. L. (2007). Increased Brain Activity to Infant‐Directed Speech in 6‐and 13‐Month‐Old Infants. Infancy, 11(1), 31-62.
- Saito, Y., Aoyama, S., Kondo, T., Fukumoto, R., Konishi, N., Nakamura, K., ... & Toshima, T. (2007). Frontal cerebral blood flow change associated with infant-directed speech. Archives of Disease in Childhood-Fetal and Neonatal Edition, 92(2), F113-F116.
- E.J.M. Persoon
- M. Steijvers