Adolescence (ages 9-25) is an important time for young people to better get to know themselves, their abilities and their interests. Adolescents may notice that they are a slightly different version of themselves in different social contexts, which may be confusing and can cause them to question who they really are. Adolescents feel more self-conscious and experience a heightened sensitivity to the opinions of others, which may lead them to feel insecure about themselves. So it is not strange that teenagers are sometimes described as being extremely focused on or preoccupied with themselves. Getting to know the self well and developing a positive self-concept, is important for one’s mental well-being and for being able to make important life decisions that fit the self, such as the choice for a study major or a job.

Study Design:

The self-concept study is a longitudinal study that combines experimental designs, self-report surveys, behavior observations, biological markers, brain imaging and a naturalistic intervention.

Self-concept can be described as the subjective evaluation of one’s traits or characteristics. For example, one may think of themselves as being curious, selfish, or pretty to a greater or lesser extent. During adolescence, several cognitive and social developments prime dramatic changes in self-concept.

Even though it was recently discovered that self-related thoughts can be robustly assessed using neural responses to self-related cues, not much is known about the neural processes underlying these changes in self-concept during adolescence. The main aim of this study is to investigate how adolescents’ self-concept development is associated with changes in structural and functional brain development.

The first part of the Self-concept study is a longitudinal study, where adolescents aged between 10 and 24 years visited our lab in three consecutive years. In total, 3 waves of data collection have been completed between 2016 and 2019 and are currently analyzed. Additionally, 2 behavioral follow-ups were conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

A second of this project examined a specific group of adolescents who experience difficulties with finding a suitable major and take a gap-year with Foundation Gap-Year in the Netherlands ( During this year, they focus on personal development and start working on improving their self-esteem and decision-making skills. Participants were followed for 18 months between 2017 and 2019 (4 time points, two MRI) with the aim of examining changes in their self-concept and underlying neural mechanisms. An additional aim was to test whether they were able to make better suited academic decisions after their gap-year.

A third subpart of this project includes a study in adolescent males diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Self-concept is a social construct that develops in interaction with the social environment. Therefore it may be expected that adolescents with ASD, who often experience trouble reading or dealing with social situations, could experience difficulties in forming their self-concept. The main aim of this study is to investigate differences in self-concept positivity between adolescent males with and without ASD, and to examine whether underlying neural activation would be similar or dissimilar for these adolescents. In 2018, 40 adolescent males aged 12-16 years participated in this cross-sectional study.

This project was funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO-VICI 453-14-001 E.A.C.).


The primary aim of the Research on Individual Antisocial Trajectories (RESIST) study is to gain insight into individual developmental trajectories in young adults with a history of antisocial behavior. We do this by studying several underlying psychological and neurobiological mechanisms.

Study Design:

RESIST is a longitudinal study including home visits, experimental tasks and neuroimaging tasks.

For this project, data are from a unique cohort of Dutch individuals who have been arrested by the police before the age of twelve years. This cohort was followed across adolescence and was investigated again during their current developmental phase, emerging adulthood. During the present time point of the study, we study the neural correlates of self-concept, aggression regulation and vicarious reward learning. Within the project, similar data will be collected within a group of individuals without a history of antisocial behavior. We expect to provide a better understanding of the factors that lead some adolescents to persist in and others to resists antisocial trajectories.

This project is supported by an AMMODO grant, awarded to Eveline Crone.

RESIST is also affiliated with the work package of the NeurolabNL Start impulse project, concerning brain development for youth with problematic antisocial behavior.


One of the main challenges of developmental cognitive neuroscience studies is to track changes in brain and behavior longitudinally. In the Braintime study we investigated developmental changes in childhood, adolescence and emerging adulthood in three domains: cognitive control, impulse regulation and social-emotional functions.

Study design:

Braintime is a longitudinal, developmental, neuroimaging study from childhood to adulthood.

Brainlinks is a large longitudinal project designed to gain a better understanding of age- and puberty-related change in brain function and structure related to cognitive and emotional  behavior. The study design consisted of a cognitive control task (learning and strategies) and a vicarious reward learning task. At the final wave we also examined ambiguity in risk-taking. In addition, a wide behavioral battery examined Impulse regulation, risk taking, delay of gratification and impulsive aggression. All functions were examined in relation to structural brain development (gray matter density and white matter tracts), the social environment and the role of gonadal hormones. Using multi-level models of change, we are testing changes in developmental trajectories over time. In addition, we test how brain structure and function predict individual differences in future wellbeing.

The study consisted of three waves, separated by two year intervals (2011, 2013 and 2015) in which individuals (aged 8-25 years in 2011) were followed over time. We plan an additional wave in 2022-2023, now that all participants are young adults, focusing on wellbeing.

This project was supported by an Innovative Ideas Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) and the Spinoza Prize, awarded to Eveline Crone, and a VENI grant from the Dutch Research Council (NWO), awarded to Jiska Peper.


Descriptions of youth’s rebelliousness, challenging societal rules, go back to the Ancient Greeks. However, today’s society is more complex than ever, due to intense globalization and advanced digital technology that bring together people from all around the world. The next generation of adolescents also has to navigate the consequences of multiple crises; the corona crisis, the climate crisis, and the social inequity crisis. British economist Mariana Mazzucato (2020) recently described these challenges as the triple crisis of capitalism; crises that do not fall within national borders but require global cooperation.

Young people today may be better capable to overcome the current and future societal challenges compared to previous generations. They grow up as digital natives and they are strongly connected to their peers. There are also more possibilities to influence society through social media communication at the level of peer networks (e.g., influencing larger social networks), and society at large (e.g., young people advocating together for inclusive societies around the globe).

Study Design:

The Next Generation Study is an online longitudinal behavioral survey study, including additional methods such as youth and expert panels.

With our Next Generation project, we aim to examine how adolescents who grow up in an urban environment deal with high stake societal challenges. Urgent questions that we aim to answer are: is the current generation prepared for future societal challenges? Which skills are required to balance the needs of self, others, and society? And what is needed to foster the potential of the new generation?

In “The Urban Rotterdam Project” we study individual differences in developmental trajectories among youth in Rotterdam and surrounding areas. The central goal of this longitudinal online survey study is to discover how the social environment in which one grows up (i.e., corona crisis) interacts with individual characteristics on developmental outcomes such as (mental) well-being, contributing to society, and feeling empowered. This project started during the COVID-19 pandemic (T1 = May 2020, T2 = November 2020, T3 = May 2021) with over 800 participating adolescents and young adults. Although, the impact of COVID-19 on youth has been one of our research questions, this project is set up to continue over the following years, allowing us to examine the aftermath of the pandemic, but also the impact of other crises, and developmental outcomes in the years after.

In the “Growing Up in Today’s Society Project” we aim to define and describe the characteristics of the current adolescent generation in the context of societal challenges and opportunities. We aim to examine how adolescents deal with these challenges and opportunities during their development. What are their ideas regarding possible solutions? How do they balance the needs of self, peers, parents, and society?

This project uses three methods i) survey assessments, ii) meta-analysis, and iii) panels. With the survey assessments and meta-analysis, we focus on defining the current adolescent generation from multiple perspectives (i.e., psychological science, communication science, sociological science). With our panels, we aim to describe the challenges that today’s youth face from the perspective of adolescents themselves, but also from direct circles around youth (teachers, parents, peers, employers), and indirect circles around them (expectations from society, the need to contribute to society).

The project is funded by a grant from the Erasmus Trust fund.


During adolescence, individuals learn to autonomously navigate their social world and social relationships. Prosocial behaviors (i.e., behaviors that benefit others) are crucial for forming and maintaining social relationships, which is an important developmental goal in adolescence. Prosocial actions do not only benefit adolescents’ environment, but adolescents themselves also profit from showing other-benefiting behaviors. Benefits for the self include improved mental health and accomplishments in the social and academic domains. Benefits for society depend on the type of prosociality displayed, and can range from benefits for close others (e.g., friends and family) to more distant and larger groups (e.g., the neighborhood or society as a whole).

Study Design:

Brainlinks is a longitudinal and intervention study that combines neuroimaging, behavioral experiments, hormone data, and surveys.

Despite the clear benefits of prosocial behavior for adolescents and those around them, developmental patterns and underlying mechanisms across adolescence are still largely unknown. Prosocial behavior comprises many behaviors (i.e., helping, giving, cooperation) directed to various others (i.e., family, friends, society). Gaining a better understanding of prosocial behaviors under multiple circumstances and contexts is especially important given current global challenges, such as the climate crisis and social inequality crisis.

In the first part of the study, we focus on the development of multiple types of prosociality to targets with varying levels of familiarity (e.g., ranging from family to society) using behavioral and brain imaging methods. Brainlinks consists of three lab visits, which were scheduled 1.5 years apart, and started in 2018. A unique aspect of this study is that adolescents’ parents also participated, providing us with the opportunity to compare neuroimaging and behavioral results within a family. Another special aspect is that the COVID-19 pandemic broke out between the second and third lab visit. As a result, we decided to postpone the third lab visit to 2021 and enriched our study with a daily diary study during the first lockdown in the Netherlands. Consequently, our longitudinal design will allow us to compare pre-pandemic data to peri- and post-pandemic data, thereby enabling the investigation of the effects of the pandemic on the behavior and brains of adolescents.

In the second part, we apply the knowledge obtained in the first study to newly created state-of-the-art interventions that aim to foster prosocial behaviors and the associated benefits in adolescents. We examine differences between adolescents who do – and adolescents who do not – participate in a prosocial behavior intervention. This allows us to test the effects of school-based interventions that offer adolescents opportunities for prosocial behavior. Prosocial experiences may help to fulfill adolescent’s needs to be a contributing member of society and buffer against feelings of disconnection. The study consists of both a naturalistic experiment and micro-trial design. Participants (aged 12-25) are asked to fill out questionnaires and experimental tasks before (T1), during (T2), and after (T3) the intervention (i.e., approximately once every month). In addition, a follow-up will be included (T4). Data collection for the intervention project started in October 2021.

An overview of the meta-data can be found here: [link].

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 681632)


Most children develop well and find their way into society without many problems, but not all children manage to do so. We investigate how this difference is related to a combination of the child’s disposition and the environment in which one is raised. We aim to understand the role of brain development herein, how children’s chances for thriving are influenced by their parents, and how we can better foster children’s development.

Study Design

The L-CID study is a longitudinal, developmental, neuroimaging, randomized control intervention twin study.

To better understand the longitudinal developmental pathways of social competence and behavioral control, the Leiden Consortium on Individual Development (L-CID) created a unique study design. This set-up allowed us to also take potential differential effects of social enrichment into account.

  • The L-CID study includes two different cohorts: the early childhood cohort (ECC), aged 3-5 at wave 1, and the middle childhood cohort (MCC), aged 7-9 at wave 1.
  • Each cohort has six annual measures, and across the 6 waves home and lab visits are alternated. The home visits include behavioral measures and lab visits additionally include a neuroimaging measure (EEG or MRI).
  • The last two waves of the ECC overlap with the first two waves of the MCC, resulting in a cohort-sequential design including children aged 3-14 years old.
  • All participants included in the study are same-sex twins and approximately 54% of the sample is monozygotic.
  • In addition to behavioral and neuroimaging measures, we also collected several physiological measures such as cortisol, which might serve as susceptibility markers.
  • To experimentally examine social enrichment, we included an intervention. Between the 2nd and 3rd measurement, 40% of the sample received a video feedback intervention to promote positive parenting and sensitive discipline (VIPP-SD).
  • Data collection was still going on at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In both cohorts, we included measures specific to the pandemic in an additional COVID-19 wave (May 2020).
  • Informing society through translating and communicating our research findings
  • Let society inform us in sharpening our research questions and interpreting our research findings through citizen-science and living-lab approaches.


The design of the L-CID project and inclusion of multiple methods and disciplines provides us with the opportunity to address many different research questions:

  • The longitudinal design will allow us to answer developmental questions.
  • The combination of brain and behavioral measures will help us to study sensitive windows in development.
  • The two cohorts and overlap herein allows for replication.
  • The randomized control intervention allows us to test for causality.
  • With the twin data we can implement genetic modeling and test the relative impact of genetic vs environmental variability.
  • The susceptibility markers allow us to test the differential susceptibility theory.

Currently, our meta-data is already available and an overview of all our measures can be found here.

L-CID is part of the National Consortium on Individual Development (CID) which is funded by a ‘Gravity’ grant of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

For more information on the national consortium see: