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Research Biological Psychology

Research at the department of Biological Psychology is focused on the analysis of genetic and biological causes of individual differences in behaviour and health and well-being.

Research and educational activities at the department of Biological Psychology are centred on the analysis of individual differences in mental and physical health, brain structure and function, and normal and abnormal behaviour. We study the genetic and biological basis of individual differences in human behaviour using approaches from psychophysiology and neuroscience, behaviour and molecular genetics and epidemiology.

The department maintains the Netherlands Twin Register which was established in 1987 and has developed into an important resource for research in (behavioural) genetics. The NTR collects data from twin-families (twins, sibs, parents, spouses and offspring). More than 80.000 young twins and multiples have been registered at birth and are followed throughout their development. Over 40.000 adults take part in longitudinal survey studies on personality, stress sensitivity, behavioural problems, psychiatric disorders (ADHD, anxiety and depressive disorders), lifestyle (tobacco, alcohol and substance use, physical activity, sports and exercise) and psychological well-being and health (e.g. cardiovascular, asthma, migraine, diabetes). Subgroups participate in studies of cognition and memory, blood, urine or saliva-based biomarkers, sMRI, fMRI, EEG/ERP, adult and childhood psychopathology, addiction, diabetes and cardiovascular risk. In the NTR Biobank project biological material (DNA, RNA, cell lines serum, plasma, urine) is collected from over 10.000 participants. The database is widely used by researchers to determine the interplay of genes and environment on the development of structure and function of the brain, psychiatric disorders, life style behaviours and health and well-being.

Over 80 PhD students have used data collected by the NTR for their PhD thesis projects and many of these projects are done in close collaboration with international colleagues. All lectures, workshops, symposia and seminars, and of most of the departmental meetings use English as the preferred language. 

Research is funded by regular successes in grant acquisition from the Dutch organisations for Scientific Research (NWO) and Health Care Research (ZonMW), the European Union (ERC, Horizon Europe) and the National Institutes of Health (US).