Research and teaching group on clinical neuroscience of Childhood and Adolescence

Welcome to the homepage of the research and teaching group “Clinical Neuropsychology of Childhood and Adolescence” at the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics of RWTH Aachen University Hospital.

The aim of our research group is to investigate and characterize brain development in typically developing children as well as deviations from typical development, specifically in neuropsychiatric disorders of childhood and adolescence. By studying infants, toddlers, children and adolescents we aim to identify earliest signs of deviant neural trajectories as well as brain development during most sensitive transition periods within the first two decades of life.

A main focus lies in exploring the factors that guide and impact brain development at numerous levels of analysis, including various environmental, genetic, and hormonal influences on brain structures and functions. Neural plasticity is a key component in these effects and is studied by our research group with the goal of improving and developing age-appropriate and targeted prevention and early interventions for individuals with atypical brain development. We are particularly interested in individual differences in typical and atypical development of attentive and social behaviours, how they are reflected in the underlying neural mechanisms, and how the social environment influences the development of these differences. Thus, our studies also focus on children at-risk for deviant brain development.

Our key clinical areas of research are ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and learning disabilities such as Dyslexia and Dyscalculia. These disorders are characterized in terms of cerebral dysfunction and disorganization. Effects of psychological and psychopharmacological therapeutic interventions are investigated on the behavioral and brain level. Detailed and accurate neuropsychological assessments and neuroscientific interventions suitable for children and adolescents are therefore a top priority. Methods used to study neuroscientific processes in our lab include state of the art techniques in neuropsychological testing, eyetracking, functional and anatomical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS), electroencephalography (EEG) as well as psychophysiological measures such as skin conductance, hormonal assays, and heart rate variability.

The Clinical Neuroscience of Childhood and Adolescence research group works in close cooperation with the Research Centre in Jülich within the framework of “JARA-BRAIN”.