The human brain is plastic throughout life. Structural and functional changes in the brain are required throughout development and ageing to optimally adapt to the environment. Our research focuses on structural and functional brain plasticity throughout life in health and in psychiatric disease, and the influences of genes and environment on brain plasticity. We found that structural brain plasticity is partly heritable (up to 50%) in adolescence and adulthood, and in a next step we will focus on finding genes and (interactions with) environmental factors for individual differences in brain plasticity. For this purpose individuals and their (twin) family members are studied using magnetic resonance imaging at (ultra) high field.

Key Publications

  • Bohlken, MM, Brouwer, RM, Mandl, RC, Van den Heuvel, MP, Hedman, AM, De Hert, M et al.. Structural Brain Connectivity as a Genetic Marker for Schizophrenia. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015; :1-9. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.1925. PubMed PMID:26606729 .
  • Bohlken MM, Mandl RC, Brouwer RM, van den Heuvel MP, Hedman AM, Kahn RS, Hulshoff Pol HE. Heritability of structural brain network topology: a DTI study of 156 twins. Hum Brain Mapp. 2014 Oct;35(10):5295-305.
  • Brouwer RM, Hedman AM, van Haren NE, Schnack HG, Brans RG, Smit DJ, Kahn RS, Boomsma DI, Hulshoff Pol HE. Heritability of brain volume change and its relation to intelligence. Neuroimage. 2014 Oct 15;100:676-83.
  • Marsman A, Mandl RC, Klomp DW, Bohlken MM, Boer VO, Andreychenko A, Cahn W, Kahn RS, Luijten PR, Hulshoff Pol HE. GABA and glutamate in schizophrenia: a 7 T ¹H-MRS study. Neuroimage Clin. 2014 Oct 15;6:398-407.
  • Mandl RC, Schnack HG, Zwiers MP, Kahn RS, Hulshoff Pol HE. Functional diffusion tensor imaging at 3 Tesla. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Dec 3;7:817.
  • Schnack HG, van Haren NE, Brouwer RM, Evans A, Durston S, Boomsma DI, Kahn RS, Hulshoff Pol HE. Changes in Thickness and Surface Area of the Human Cortex and Their Relationship with Intelligence. Cereb Cortex. 2014 Jan 9. [epub ahead of print]

Brain Plasticity Group Members

  • Hilleke Hulshoff Pol – Group Leader
  • Rachel Brouwer – Senior Researcher
  • Marinka Koenis – PhD student
  • Jalmar Teeuw  – PhD student
  • Pascal Pas  – PhD student
  • Yumas Hankouri – Senior Research Systems Architect


  • Jeanette Sopacua

Visiting scholars

  • Alena Svatkova (Erasmus grant, 2014)
  • Richard Bartecek (Marie Curie fellow, 2012)
  • Javier Peña (The Basque Government, 2009)


  • Suzanne Swagerman (2016)
  • Guusje Collin (2015)
  • Marc Bohlken (2015)
  • Anna Hedman (2013)
  • Anouk Marsman (2013)
  • Monica Rais (2011)
  • Inge van Soelen (2011)
  • Heleen Boos (2011)
  • Cedric Koolschijn (2009)
  • Martijn van den Heuvel (2009)
  • Rachel Brans (2009)
  • Rene Mandl (2009)
  • Marieke van Leeuwen (2008)
  • Jiska Peper (2008)
  • Mijke Zeegers (2006)
  • Joost Janssen (2006)
  • Saskia Palmen (2005)
  • Eveline de Bruin (2005)
  • Neeltje van Haren (2004)
  • Indrag Lampe (2004)
  • Wiepke Cahn (2003)
  • Sarah Durston (2003)
  • Wim Baare (2001)
  • Wouter Staal (2000)