Nijmegen, Netherlands

Baby & Child Research Center: How Early Life Shapes Human Development

online course
when 12 July 2021 - 16 July 2021
language English
duration 1 week
credits 2 EC
fee EUR 295

During the prenatal and early postnatal years human development proceeds at a breathtaking pace and is highly sensitive to environmental influence. Early experience shapes short- and long-term developmental outcomes. This course focuses on the effects of early experience on human development, and more specifically, on child socio-emotional development, physiology, and health. Factors that play a role in our development will be approached from different perspectives, with special attention to psychological and biological perspectives. The course is intrinsically interdisciplinary and will cover a broad range of topics.

The program will consist of lectures (typically two per day), a variety of small group assignments that will be discussed in plenary sessions, and a lab visit to the Baby and Child Research Center. Students will receive a reader with a selection of literature.

Topics include:

- Early life stress, including maternal stress during pregnancy and postnatal stress.
- Early caregiving environment, including attachment, feeding and sleeping arrangements, paternal care and non-parental care.
- Biological markers, including hormones, breast milk components, and telomere physiology.
- Health, including intestinal microbiota.
- Early prevention and intervention, including in infants born preterm.

The assignments include:

- Translating research into practice
- Resolving research problems
- Designing a research project
- Brainstorming about the future of the field

Course leader

Carolina de Weerth
Professor of Psychobiology of Early Development, Cognitive Neuroscience
Radboud University Medical Center

Target group


This course is designed for Master and PhD students of Psychology, Pedagogics, Biology, Medicine or related fields. Students that do not meet these requirements, are kindly asked to support their motivation in a letter and include their CV. This course offers a broad overview of a range of early life factors and mechanisms that shape human development (also called 'early programming'). It is especially designed for students with a more biological/medical background that are interested in learning about the psychological aspects of early programming, and for students with a more psychological/pedagogical background that are interested in learning about the biological aspects of early programming. If you have any doubts about whether the course is suitable for you, please contact the course leader.

Course aim

After this course, you are able to:

1. Have knowledge and understanding of the effects of a broad range of early prenatal and postnatal experiences on developmental outcomes, as well as on possible underlying mechanisms.
2. Be aware of recent developments in the field of early psychobiological development research.
3. Be able to critically analyse recent literature on the course subjects and translate findings for clinical practice or the general public.
4. Be able to apply the recently acquired knowledge into the design of new research, and into discussing your own ideas and standpoints on this field of research.

Fee info

EUR 295: This fees includes the registration fees, course materials, access to library and IT facilities, coffee/tea, lunch and a number of social activities

Register for this course
on course website