Work package 3

How does antisocial and delinquent behavior develop in adolescents?

In this work package of the Startimpulse we investigate how neurobiological and psychosocial measurements can be integrated in order to get a better picture of problematic antisocial behavior among adolescents.

We investigate how the brains of young people with antisocial behavior develop differently compared to young people who do not show this behavior. This information will be directly communicated to the professionals that work with policy on problem youth, for example in the form of a toolkit.

The researchers attach great importance to the ethical aspects of this knowledge: what are the consequences of knowing someone has a different brain development? And how is this described to parents and used for interventions? In addition, we want to start a dialogue with adolescents by setting up a focus group about the added value of knowledge about neurobiology for youth themselves.

In recent years, neuroscientific research has taught us a lot about the brain development of young people with and without antisocial behavior. A groundbreaking step for our society is to link these two lines of research together. With this knowledge we can play a much better role in the prevention and treatment of problematic behavior. Moreover, it is important to get this information where it is needed: to the social authorities working with young people who come into contact with the justice system, for example. With the help of knowledge about possible abnormal brain development in an adolescent at risk, in combination with environmental factors and behavior, professionals can sketch a profile for each individual. In the future, neurobiological measurements during interventions, such as heart rate, can contribute to the development of a more targeted approach for specific groups: when we know how a particular risk group responds to an intervention, we can adjust the intervention to achieve an optimal result. .

This research is carried out in collaboration with universities, applied universities, the Scientific Research and Documentation Center of the Ministry of Justice and Safety, en other partners amongst which Public Prosecution Service, Intermetzo, Pluryn, Netherlands Institute of Forensic Psychiatry and the Board of Jurisdiction. See below for a list of affiliated organisations and collaborators on this project.

Affiliated researchers

Dr. Lucres Nauta-Jansen (Free University Medical Center)

Prof. Dr. Hilleke Hulshoff-Pol (Academic Medical Center Utrecht)

Prof. Dr. Barbara Franke (Radboud Academic Medical Center)

Prof. Dr. Hanna Swaab (Leiden University)

Marieke Klein (Radboud AMC/AMCU)

Neeltje Blankenstein (FUMC/LU)

Prof. Dr. Dorothee Horstkötter (Maastricht University)

Dr. Anke Snoek (Maastricht University)

Prof. Dr. Andrea Donker (Utrecht Applied University)

Dr. Dorien Graas (Windesheim Applied University)

Prof. Dr. Peter Nikken (Windesheim Applied University)

Four research projects with different sources of funding are connected to this work package:

The list of affiliated researchers and societal partners is ever expanding. Are you involved in this Startimpulse work package, but not yet on the list? Please send an e-mail to