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

  • Teeuw J, Brouwer RM, Guimaraes J, Brandner P, Koenis MMG, Swagerman SC, Verwoert M, Boomsma DI, Hulshoff Pol HE. Genetic and environmental influences on on functional connectivity within and between canonical cortical resting-state networks throughout adolescent development in boys and girls. NeuroImage202, 1-16.  [116073].,
  • Teeuw J, Brouwer RM, Koenis MMG, Swagerman SC, Boomsma DI, Hulshoff Pol HE (2019) Genetic Influences on the Development of Cerebral Cortical Thickness During Childhood and Adolescence in a Dutch Longitudinal Twin Sample: The Brainscale Study.Cereb CortexMar 1;29(3):978-993. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhy005
  • Brouwer RM, Panizzon MS, Glahn DC, Hibar DP, Hua X, Jahanshad N, Abramovic L, de Zubicaray GI, Franz CE, Hansell NK, Hickie IB, Koenis MMG, Martin NG, Mather KA, McMahon KL, Schnack HG, Strike LT, Swagerman SC, Thalamuthu A, Wen W, Gilmore JH, Gogtay N, Kahn RS, Sachdev PS, Wright MJ, Boomsma DI, Kremen WS, Thompson PM, Hulshoff Pol HE. Genetic influences on individual differences in longitudinal changes in global and subcortical brain volumes: Results of the ENIGMA plasticity working group. Hum Brain Mapp. 2017;38(9):4444-4458. Number of citations=8 DOI: 10.1002/hbm.23672
  • 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
  • Elizabeth Buimer – PhD Student
  • Yaron Caspi – Post-doc
  • Marieke Klein – Post-doc


  • Jeanette Sopacua

Visiting scholars

  • Fabiano Parente (Erasmus grant, 2016)
  • Alena Svatkova (Erasmus grant, 2014)
  • Richard Bartecek (Marie Curie fellow, 2012)
  • Javier Peña (The Basque Government, 2009)


  • Marinka Koenis (2017)
  • 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)