Optimal Development

This page addresses the research pillar Optimal Development, its related research projects and the researchers who are involved.

Optimal Development

The development of children does not only depend on their genetic makeup, but to a large extent on external stimulation, promoting the development of dedicated brain networks and eventually performance.

Education, parents and day-care

The educational system is one of the most significant systems explicitly targeted at facilitating optimal development and learning of all youth to prepare for society, but there are other aspects that are crucial as well, especially in the preschool period, such as stimulation by parents and day-care.

psychological and
social aspects

Knowledge integration

We focus on mechanisms and factors that affect optimal stimulation of children, by combining neurobiological knowledge of neuronal circuitry (often from animal studies) with expertise on educational, psychological and social aspects of
development (e.g. from human studies).

Ultimately, integrating this knowledge should improve the way we can promote cognitive/brain development by optimising learning strategies.

Key questions

The major questions regarding this research pillar are:

  • What are optimal (sensitive) periods for learning specific skills?
  • What levels of stress are optimal for learning?
  • What are (dis)advantages of day-care versus parental raising?
  • What are the effects of multilingual raising?
  • What are the effects of cultural differences in learning tradition?
  • How can new media be optimally used?
  • What is the role of parents in early language development, creativity and school performances?
  • What is the role of teacher-pupil interaction?


These research projects are currently running within the research pillar of Optimal Development:

Principal investigators

These principal investigators are currently working on the research pillar of Optimal Development:


For every faculty, these are the researchers that are involved in the research pillar of Optimal Development (apart from the principal investigators).