September 13, 2023

The brain is a fascinating organ that keeps developing over time, influenced by experiences and genes. Eveline Crone and Hilleke Hulshoff Pol both study the brain and its role in development.

In their mirrored interview for magazine New Scientist, Crone and Hulshoff Poll explain what they ideally want to achieve with their research and their most important findings so far. They also share personal matters: Hulshoff Pol’s passion for sculpting and Crone’s work-life balance. 

‘I study how young people can grow up in the best possible way; how their social worlds, such as parents, school, and friends, interact. My staff and I pay attention to a person’s environment and personal characteristics. We are particularly interested in how it is possible that people are sometimes focused on the well-being of others and at other times on their own well-being. How do you balance between these interests? We take into account all kinds of influences from the environment, such as the neighbourhood in which the child grows up, the role of the family, and that of friends. Together, these social worlds influence who the child is’, states Eveline Crone.

In return, Hilleke Hulshoff Pol explains: ‘The biggest breakthrough of our research is that we have proved that genes affect brain growth or shrinkage. We also have evidence that these changes affect how we function, how we develop, how we age, and possibly the development of psychiatric disorders.’

The full article will be published in New Scientist, as part of the magazine’s special issue about the Consortium on Individual Development. The article will appear in September 2023. Read a preview of the interview here.


Eveline Crone is head of the L-CID study. Hilleke Hulshoff Pol is professor at Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht.

Images: New Scientist