The major focus of the UvA-DP program is on normal and deviant cognitive development. The research program on normal development covers the entire life-span (“from cradle to grave”: from infants and toddlers to the elementary school age to adolescence to senescence). The program on deviant development also covers much of the life-span, but focuses on a limited set of strongholds (detailed below). While these subprograms each have separate aims and foci, integration and mutual fertilization is ensured through the use of common research paradigms and methodologies as well as the participation and collaboration of researchers in both programs in various constellations.
Normal Development. This program has a three-fold focus.
· learning, decision-making, and cognitive control across the life span, in relation to neural maturation and deterioration.
· development of school and pre-school cognitive capabilities, and educational ramifications.
· emphasis on methodological innovation innervates the analysis approach entertained in the other clusters, including mathematical modeling of theories of neurocognitive development.
Deviant Development. Assessment and intervention present two separate yet essentially integrated outlooks. While converging on largely the same clusters of abilities, with similar methodological accents, as the normal development program, some domains are accentuated:
· addiction, centering on adolescence, and capitalizing on the balance between impulsive (implicit) versus control (executive) processes.
· moderators and mediators of psychological interventions for children and adolescents with externalizing and internalizing problems, linking treatment outcome research with basic developmental psychopathology models to examine mechanisms of change.
· biological psychopathology (mild to severe retardation; autism spectrum disorder), and neuropsychiatric disorders among elderly (in particular Parkinson’s disease), as related to the cluster of decision-making and cognitive control.
· reading- and other learning disabilities.
Transversal and translational perspectives. A number of prominent perspectives, cutting across normal and deviant development, distinguish UvA-DP from other DP departments.
· UvA-DP studies environmental, social, affective, and motivational modulations of cognitive development across its subprograms.
· a strong focus on a) the relation between cognitive development and brain maturation; b) the theoretical, mathematical/computational, and statistical modeling of (neuro-)cognitive development; and c) the development and application of innovative techniques for the statistical analysis of behavioral, neuropsychological, and neural developmental data.
· Across its normal/deviant subprograms, and across its experimental and analytical approaches, UvA-DP engages individual-differences techniques as starting points for analysis beyond traditional group analyses.
· UvA-DP increasingly endeavors to combine its efforts in fundamental research efforts with practice-oriented work.