The focus of research and educational courses at the department of Biological Psychology is the analysis of individual differences in health, cognition, normal and abnormal behavior. We study the genetic and biological basis of individual differences in human behavior using approaches from genetic epidemiology, psychophysiology and molecular genetics.
The department maintains the Netherlands Twin Register (www.tweelingenregister.org) which was established in 1987 as an important resource for research in (behavioral) genetics. The NTR collects data from twin-families (twins, sibs, parents, spouses, offspring). More than 70.000 young twins and multiples have been registered at birth and are followed through development and over 22.000 adults take part in longitudinal genetic studies. In the NTR-Biobank project biological material (DNA, RNA, cell lines serum, plasma, urine) is collected in over 10.000 participants. The database is widely used for psychological, genetic and medical research.
Longitudinal data are collected by surveys on lifestyle, personality, health and psychiatric disorders. Subgroups participate in studies of cognition and memory; of sMRI, fMRI, EEG/ERP; adult and childhood psychopathology, addiction, diabetes and cardiovascular risk (see http://www.vu-ams.nl). For over 50 PhD students have used the data collected by the NTR for their PhD thesis projects and many of these projects are done in close collaboration with international colleagues.
A longstanding interest is also in the genetics of fertility and dizygotic twinning and in twinning as a risk or a protective factor during development. In collaboration with the VU Medical Centre a special clinic (http://www.twinvumc.nl) has been established to address the special needs of twins and multiples.