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2014 Early Life Experiences: From Genes to Cognition

Nature versus nurture in brain development 

The brain continues to develop up to about the age of 20. This developmental process is most active just before birth but also continues significantly after birth. While these developments follow a pre-programmed path, there are also several variables that have an important impact on the development of the brain. Such environmental factors (early life experiences) can influence development in the long-term via epigenetic processes. In this summer course offered by Amsterdam Brain and Cognition (ABC), lecturers will go into great detail about the development of the brain, and more specifically, how early life experiences influence the development and functioning of the brain and cognitive processes.

The Summer School will run from 16-27 June and consists of two parts: two weeks of lectures and training (the Summer School itself), and a one-day Symposium featuring various renowned speakers from the field. On Thursday June 26th, prof. dr. Michael Meaney from Mc Gill University, Canada, will give the honorary Frijda lecture which is an open event and can be attended separately from the Summer School. Both the Summer School and the Symposium address the topic of how early life experiences affect the brain and behavior.


  • Prof. dr. Paul Lucassen - UvA “Development of the brain”
  •  Prof. dr. Christiaan Levelt - NiN “Critical periods of the brain”
  • Prof. dr. Hans van Goudoever - AMC “Early nutrition and later life cognition”
  • Dr. Jeroen Dudink - Erasmus MC  “Brain injury and preterm birth”           
  • Prof. dr. Eveline Crone - Univ. Leiden  “Adolescence and brain development”
  • Prof. dr. Sabine Spijker -  VU University “Animal models and psychiatric disease”
  • Dr. Sabine Hunnius -  Donders Institute “Social and cognitive development of infants’           
  • Prof. Dr. Bernet Elzinga – Univ. Leiden “Early adversity in humans”         
  • Prof. Dr. Hans van Bokhoven - Univ. Nijmegen  “Genes, the brain and disease”       
  • Prof. dr. Tallie Z. Baram, University of California, USA “Early life experience, maternal care and programming of the brain”
  • Prof. dr. Mathias Schmidt, Max Planck Institute Munich, Germany “Early life stress and development” 

Frijda Lecture 

Prof. dr. Michael Meaney, McGill University, Canada




The Summer School and the associated Symposium are organized by Dr. Harm Krugers and Dr. Aniko Korosi and coordinated by Dr. Deborah Alfarez from the Swammerdam Institute of Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam. Harm Krugers’ and Aniko Korosi’s research focuses on early life experience, stress-hormones and synaptic function.