Child Study Group

The Child Study Group is chaired by professor Jaap Oosterlaan and hosts two lines of research. One line of research focuses on childhood disruptive behaviour disorders, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and antisocial behaviour. The other line of research targets medical conditions affecting the central nervous system, such as premature birth and traumatic brain injury. 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.

The 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 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 obtained[1], [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].

Meet the staff


[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.

empty[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.

empty[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.