ADHD research at NICHE

The work of Prof. Sarah Durston forms the foundation of ADHD research at NICHE. Her PhD thesis 'Imaging brain structure and function in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder' included several studies investigating morphological and functional changes in children with ADHD and their unaffected siblings (Publications are found here). Sarah was able to follow up on this work with (amongst other funding) two consecutive grants from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), a VENI in 2003 and a VIDI in 2006. In 2003 Sarah Durston also founded NICHE, the “neuroimaging in children” lab, at what was then the Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry of the UMC Utrecht. After having receiving the prestigious NWO VICI grant in 2011 Sarah Durston started our largest project so far: ‘Mapping ADHD: from behavior to biology’.

Development of brain structure and function in ADHD

Heterogeneity in ADHD

Imaging Genetics in ADHD


Martijn Mulder - Cognitive control and decision making in ADHD (June 3, 2010)
Patrick de Zeeuw -  Neurobiological heterogeneity in ADHD (October 13, 2011)
Janna van Belle - Developmental aspects of ADHD (April 16, 2015)
Dienke Bos - Under construction. Brain connectivity and fatty acid treatment in developmental disorders (February 11, 2016)

Autism research at NICHE

Development of brain structure and function in ASD

Behavioral flexibility in ASD

Imaging Genetics in ASD



Marieke Langen - Repetitive behaviour in autism: Imaging pathways and trajectories (December 22, 2009)
Dienke Bos - Under construction. Brain connectivity and fatty acid treatment in developmental disorders (February 11, 2016)

Typical Brain Development

Our largest ADHD-project 'Mapping ADHD: from behavior to biology' also gave rise to a new line of research at NICHE, investigating the development of the typically developing brain. These studies are critical for our understanding of atypical brain development as seen in ADHD, autism, and many other disorders.

Brain morphology

Over the past 7 years our (still growing) cohort of (a)typically developing children and adolescents reached such a vast size that Lara Wierenga was able to solely focus on the typical development of the brain during childhood and adolescence using structural MRI and DTI. More information on Lara's work will be online soon.

Behavioral control

As of 2015, Dienke Bos started as a post-doctoral researcher on a project within the Consortium on Individual Development. The aim of this consortium is to investigate the development of behavioral control throughout childhood. Dienke will focus on the neural correlates of behavioral control and investigate which factors put the adequate development of behavioral control at risk. More information on Dienke's new project will be online soon.



Ultra-high risk

Past research at NICHE includes the Dutch Prediction of Psychosis (DUPS) study and its successor NIRP (NeuroImaging of Risk for Psychosis).

The DUPS-project aimed to chart the development the neurobiological correlates of ultra-high risk for psychosis and relate these to the clinical manifestation of psychosis and resilience. Within the DUPS project, baseline, 2-year and 6-year follow-up measurements were acquired including structural MRI, physiological measures (ERP, EMG and EOP data) and (clinical) symptom measures for adolescents at risk of developing psychosis and matched controls. Tim Ziermans investigated baseline and 2-year follow-up data where he discovered only prepulse inhibition (PPI) was found to discriminate between at-risk adolescents and controls. These data suggest that neurobiological markers of schizophrenia that are also present (to a lesser extent) in adult at-risk patients, are relatively unaffected in young adolescents at risk. Interestingly, baseline MRI data showed that there were no gross structural brain abnormalities in young adolescents at risk compared to typical controls. Longitudinal MRI data showed that the development of psychosis during adolescence is associated with progressive structural brain changes around the time of onset.

Sanne de Wit performed the 6-year follow-up of the original DUPS participants. During this follow-up MRI-scans and symptoms measurements were acquired for the third time in this group of individuals at ultra-high risk for psychosis. The first results show that clinical measures are currently the most important vulnerability markers for long-term outcome in adolescents at risk of psychosis. Further, when evaluating long-term outcome in individuals who recovered from their at-risk state, it was discovered that they still met diagnostic criteria for a wide range of other psychiatric disorders. These findings suggest that, when related to long-term outcome, UHR criteria capture non-specific psychotic symptoms rather than risk for psychosis per se and relate more to general psychopathology.

For more information on study results and the associated peer-reviewed journal articles: please see the main investigator's profiles.


Tim Ziermans - In Transition: A longitudinal exploration of the adolescent brain at risk for psychosis (September 30, 2010)
Sanne de Wit - Long-term outcome in adolescents at ultra-high risk for psychosis: A focus on resilience (April 21, 2016)