Patrick de Zeeuw
Patrick de Zeeuw is an assistant professor at the NICHE Neuroimaging Lab, and a psychologist in clinical training towards the Dutch healthcare psychologist (GZ-psycholoog) registration, both at the Developmental Disorders Unit within the Department of Psychiatry. He completed his MSc in Clinical Neuropsychology (specialisation: Child Neuropsychology) at VU University Amsterdam in 2005. Afterwards, he worked as a teaching/research assistant with the departments of Clinical Neuropsychology at both VU University Amsterdam and Leiden University. He joined the NICHE lab in October 2006 as a PhD student where he investigated brain development and neuropsychological factors in childhood ADHD using a combination of MRI, cognitive, genetic and questionnaire approaches. In October 2011, he received his PhD with a dissertation entitled Neurobiological Heterogeneity in ADHD.
The main research interests of dr. De Zeeuw are the neurobiological and neuropsychological background of developmental disorders. He has been involved in a broad spectrum of clinical and basic research into ADHD since 2003. The main focus of his current research within the lab of prof.dr. Sarah Durston, continues to be on brain development in ADHD. In addition, together with PhD students in the lab, he works on the hypothesis that deviations in separable brain networks that are crucial to cognitive control, temporal processing and sensitivity to reward, may independently be associated with ADHD. He is also a strong advocate of integration of basic research into clinical practice and of combining both clinical and research activities to a broader and fuller understanding of developmental disorders.
Current Research Projects
Longitudinal structural MRI and DTI in children with ADHD
The aim of the project is to integrate sturctural neuroimaging, cognitive performance data and genotypic information in ADHD. To achieve this, a large group of children with ADHD and controls will be scanned using both structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging (sMRI) and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI). Additionally, tests tapping cognitive functions which are known to be deficient in ADHD will be administered. These include tests of cognitive control, sensitivity to effects of stimulus timing and sensitivity to reward. DNA will be obtained from participants and their parents for genotyping. Candidate genes that will be investigated are genes which have been associated with ADHD and have been subsequently replicated, thus covering multiple (neurotransmitter) pathways. Of main interest in this large cohort study is describing brain development in ADHD, as well as the influence of genetic vulnerability and presence of cognitive deficits on brain development in ADHD.
The SCORE! study: on ADHD, reward sensitivity and behavioral therapy
Group behaviour therapy is a frequently used element in the treatment program for children with ADHD. A characteristic of behaviour therapy is that positive reward strategies are used to support the learning process and help establish new skills. The accompanying parent-training program also teaches parents how to employ positive reinforcement strategies effectively at home. However, research has shown that on average, children with ADHD are less sensitive to reward than children without ADHD. As such, a reduced sensitivity to reward might explain why some children with ADHD do not benefit as much from this type of therapy than others. Research is now also beginning to show substantial differences between children with ADHD: not every child diagnosed with ADHD has the exact same difficulties. Therefore, some children with ADHD might have very typical levels of sensitivity to reward, while others do not. We will conduct a pilot-study to investigate whether reward sensitivity measured before treatment can predict the effectiveness of such a group behavioral treatment. (The SCORE! study is supported by a Hersensitichting Klein grant).