CID research is grouped into four work packages (WPs), each focusing on specific aspects of development:
WP1: The role of brain development
The neurobiological developmental trajectory of newborns, children, and adolescents is not fully understood. In particular, we are only just beginning to learn to what extent genetic and environmental factors influence brain development and how these effects in turn influence behaviour. WP1 focuses on brain development in relation to behaviour, specifically on social competence and behavioural control and addresses questions regarding their interrelationships, how associations might develop as a function of age, gender, genetic influences, and environmental exposures.
WP2: Effects of interventions
Children are not equally vulnerable to adverse rearing environments, nor do they equally profit from supportive environments. Differential susceptibility theory proposes that vulnerable children, who suffer most from bad environments, are also more receptive to positive changes in the child rearing and wider social environment. Central questions are: Which children are most susceptible to environmental influences, and what are the neurobiological mechanisms by which the environment influences children’s social competence and behavioural control? These questions are addressed experimentally in longitudinal randomized controlled trials (Leiden-Consortium Individual Development, L-CID), using cognitive and behavioural interventions.
WP3: The role of generational transmission in families
The WP3 studies investigate how the characteristics of grandparents (Generation 1, G1) impact the development of parents (Generation 2, G2) and – through them – the development of their children (Generation 3, G3). These studies have a multigenerational design and investigate the extent to which genetic and non-genetic transmission between generations causes differences in developmental outcomes in children and adolescents. The three-generation design is used to study behavioural transmission. Two- and three-generation designs are used to study the epigenetics of transmission and to untangle genetic and environmental processes of transmission of processes related to behavioural control and social competence.
WP4: Animal and mathematical models of development
We aim to gain an understanding of how gene x environment (G x E) interactions influence the development of behavioural control and social competence (relevant to work packages 1-3). To this end, we will use models to study G x E interactions under highly controlled conditions; use experimental methods to examine specific brain connections (down to the level of synapses); investigate trans-generational effects within a time-frame of a few years; and test the validity of specific theoretical frameworks, which in turn can be used to guide future experiments. Like the other WPs, WP4 makes use of shared technology (e.g. neuroimaging) and has a focus on behavioural control and social competence.