The Developing Brain

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    The Developing Brain

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Students will learn about neurobiological mechanisms that underlie normal and aberrant brain development, and that shape the life of individuals over time. 

    The focus of this course is on phases of brain development that shape the life of individuals over time. The brain performs differently at
    various ages; the young brain being very plastic, whereas the aging brain is gradually losing its adaptive capacity. Importantly, early and
    late brain development are affected by specific genetic factors and vulnerable to changes induced by environmental stimuli. These alterations can result in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.

    The course consists of three modules (one week per module), each covering a chronological phase of brain development. In module 1, we
    will focus on early (prenatal and postnatal) brain development and its relation to brain disorders such as autism. We will also discuss the
    crucial role of stem cells in brain development and stem cell research. In the second module, we will focus on postnatal brain development during childhood and adolescence and discuss issues related to this phase of development, such as gender identity, schizophrenia and
    the effects of drugs of abuse (alcohol, nicotine). In the last module, we will discuss cognitive decline associated with normal brain aging as
    well as specific diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's disease. Notably, each module contains a keynote lecture related to the topic of the module. Keynote lectures are given by renowned experts in their fields and are mandatory for all students.

    In addition, students will perform a Science in the Media assignment. Scientific findings are not always accurately covered in main stream
    media due to various reasons. The goal of this assignment is that students learn to critically read and evaluate a media coverage of a
    scientific study, and to present their evaluation of the flaws of a media article in small groups.

    Q&A sessions

    Exam (E; multiple choice questions and open questions): 80%
    Academic skills assignment (A): 20%

    This course is part of the minor Brain and Mind. A basic understanding of neurons, neurophysiology and molecular biology (DNA and proteins) is required. For this, we recommend to follow the courses 'Cognitive Neuroscience' and 'Nature versus Nurture' of this minor.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.


This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some are essential to make our site work; others help us improve the user experience. By using the site, you consent to the placement of these cookies.

Read our Privacy Policy to learn more.