Jaap Oosterlaan

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+31 20 59 88960
faculteit der gedrags- en bewegingswetenschappen ( sectie klinische neuropsychologie )

Jaap Oosterlaan (1962) is full professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Education at the VU University Amsterdam. He has been investigating childhood developmental disorders for more than 20 years and has published more than 150 international peer-reviewed papers, which have been cited more than 7500 times with an accompanying h-index of 47 (Google Scholar). He is chair of the Child Study Group which concentrates on two lines of research. One line of research focuses on medical conditions affecting the central nervous system, such as premature birth and traumatic brain injury. The other line of research targets childhood disruptive behaviour disorders, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and antisocial behaviour. Currently more than 20 full time equivalent researchers work on these two lines of research, including one assistant professor, two post-docs, and more than fifteen PhD students. Under the supervision of Oosterlaan, more than 10 doctoral students have been awarded their PhD over the last few years.

Oosterlaan’s research programme employs a broad array of measures including measures of behavioural, cognitive, motor, academic and brain functioning, with special emphasis on measures of cognitive functioning. Behavioural measures include parent and teacher interviews, observational methods, and parent, teacher as well as child questionnaires. Cognitive and motor functioning is assessed using a variety of mostly computerized methods assessing a broad array of functions varying from basic motor skills to higher order cognitive processes. A range of sophisticated computer based paradigms has been developed for this purpose. Brain functioning is assessed using imaging techniques including high density EEG and MRI-based techniques including structural and functional MRI as well as diffusion tensor imaging.

The research programme targets several aims. One aim is to chart the outcome of childhood developmental disorders. For example, several studies of Oosterlaan’s research programme have described the sequels of preterm birth in terms of behavioural, cognitive, motor, academic and brain functioning, yielding a far more comprehensive picture of outcome than previously obtainedempty[1],empty[2]. Another aim of the research programme is to contribute to the refinement of diagnostic procedures. For instance, parent and teacher questionnaires have been developed with accompanying normative data to assess disruptive behaviour problems in preschoolers, school-aged children and adolescents[3],[4]. Furthermore, computerized measures of cognitive and motor functioning have been shown valuable tools to aid diagnosis. For example, a newly developed computerized measure of visuomotor control has been found highly predictive for severe motor problems in preterm born children[5] and performance on cognitive measures has proven highly diagnostic for ADHD[6]. A third aim of the research programme is to elucidateunderlying mechanisms of dysfunction. Cognitive, motor and brain functioning measures are closer to the (genetic) underpinnings of a disorder, and less influenced by environmental factors than the behavioural manifestation of a disorder, and hence provide powerful tools for elucidating the (genetic) aetiology. For example, cognitive deficits have been successfully used to detect new vulnerability genes for ADHD[7] and reduced integrity of particular white matter tracks has been found to explain the highly prevalent attention problems in preterm born children[8]. Finally the research programme is aimed at the development of newtreatment approaches. For instance, studies are conducted to test the efficacy of neurofeedback to combat attentional difficulties in children treated with radiotherapy and chemotherapy for brain tumours[9] as well as in ADHD[10]. Likewise, research is aimed at the effects of physical exercise on cognitive functioning, both in normally developing children as well as in children with deviant development[11].

Oosterlaan holds clinical qualifications (Health Psychologist) and has set-up and managed university affiliated outpatient facilities specialized in the assessment and treatment of childhood ADHD and associated disruptive disorders. The provision of services in these units is guided by empirically supported protocols and emphasis is put on the interplay between clinical practice and science. Professor Oosterlaan has extensive experience with teaching both at graduate and post graduate level with classes on normal and abnormal child development, diagnostic assessment, and research skills. Professor Oosterlaan has wide experience in management positions, both within and outside the university setting. For instance, he has acted as chairman of the permanent science committee of the Faculty of Psychology and Education of the VU University and has been on the board of directors of the institute for postgraduate mental health care education for North Netherlands (RINO).

[1] Aarnoudse-Moens, C. S. H., Duivenvoorden, H. J., Weisglas-Kuperus,N., Van Goudoever, J. B., & Oosterlaan, J. (2012). The profile of executive Function in very preterm children at 4 to 12 years. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 3, 247-253.
[2] De Kieviet J. F., Piek J. P., Aarnoudse-Moens C. S., & Oosterlaan, J. (2009). Motor Development in very preterm and very low-birth-weight children from birth to adolescence: A meta-analysis. Journal of the AmericanMedicalAssociation, 20, 2235-2242.
[3] Oosterlaan, J., Baeyens, D., Scheres, A., Antrop, I., Roeyers, H., Sergeant, J. A. (2008). Handleiding bij de Vragenlijst voor gedragsproblemen bij kinderen van 6 tot en met 16 jaar ( VvGK6-16). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Harcourt Test Publishers.
[4] Smidts, D. P. & Oosterlaan, J. (2007). Handleiding bij Gedragsvragenlijst voor Kleuters (GvK). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Harcourt Test Publishers.
[5] De Kieviet, J F., Stoof, C. J. J., Geldof, J. A., Smits, N., Piek, J. P., Van Elburg, R. M., & Oosterlaan, J. (in press). A crucial role of predictability of the motor response in visuomotor deficits of very preterm children at school age. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology.
[6] De Zeeuw, P., Moens, C., Bijlhout, J., König, C., Post Uiterweer, A., Papanikolau, A., Hoogenraad, C., Iemandt, L., De Been, D., Sergeant, J. A., Oosterlaan, J. (2008). Inhibitory performance, response speed, intra-individual variability, and response accuracy in ADHD. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 7, 808-816.
[7] Rommelse, N. N. J., Altink, M. E., Arias-Vásquez, A., Buschgens, C. J. M., Fliers, A. E., Faraone, S. V., Buitelaar, J., Sergeant, J. A., Franke, B., & Oosterlaan, J. (2008). A review and analysis of the relationship between neuropsychological measures and DAT1 in ADHD. American Journal of Medical Genetics, Part B Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 8, 1536-1546.
[8] De Kieviet, J F., Van Elburg, R. M., Lafeber, H. N., Oosterlaan, J. (2012). Attention problems of very preterm children compared with age-matched term controls at school-age. Journal of Pediatrics, 5, 824-829.
[9] De Ruiter, M. A., Schouten-Van Meeteren, A. Y. N., Van Mourik, R., Janssen, T. W. P., Greidanus, J. E. M., Oosterlaan, J., & Grootenhuis, M. A. (2012). Neurofeedback to improve neurocognitive functioning of children treated for a brain tumor: design of a double blind randomized controlled trial. BMC Cancer, 1, 581.
[10] Grant awarded by Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development for a project to compare neurofeedback, physical exercise and long-acting stimulants as treatments for ADHD.
[11] Verburgh, L., Konigs, M., Scherder, E. J. A., & Oosterlaan, J. (in press). Physical exercise and executive functions in preadolescent children, adolescents and young adults: A meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine.




  • Measurement and Diagnostic Assessment, 1st year Bachelor course for all students of the Faculty of Psychology and Education, VU University Amsterdam.
  • Pediatric Neuropsychology, 3rd year Bachelor course of the Psychology program.
    Neuropsychological Assessment, 3rd year Bachelor course of the Psychology program, VU University Amsterdam.
  • Supervisor of 3rd year Bachelor theses in Clinical Neuropsychology, VU University Amsterdam.
  • Supervisor of Master theses in Clinical Neuropsychology, VU University Amsterdam.

Personal interests

Outdoor life, sports. Environmentalist endorsing and supporting nature and wildlife conservation.


Please visit our project websites:
Braingym: Neurofeedback, sports or medication treatment for ADHD?
IMAGE project: Dutch branch of the International Multi-Centre ADHD genetics project
In the classroom: Teacher program to address hyperactive and inattentive behaviour in the classroom
Food for ADHD: the role of amino acids and new avenues for treatment
Effects of pharmacological treatment of ADHD on school performance 


Laatste wijzigingen Nevenwerkzaamheden: Amsterdam 27 januari 2017