RC3 Prenatal roots of cognition


New advancements in in-vivo imaging of the fetal and neonatal brain provide the breeding ground for predictive models of lifetime development in terms of behavioural performance. In this session, state-of-the-science functional and structural markers in the fetal and preterm neonatal brain potentially related to childhood cognitive functioning will be discussed. These brain markers are the phenotypical products of underlying developmental features of the central nervous system.

Moreover, follow-up data of children with prenatal images available will be presented and discussed in the course of this session. Follow-up investigations included functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging as well as behavioural assessment.

Based on this background information, future options for lifetime predictive models of cognitive function will be suggested and discussed.


Learning goals are: (a) getting familiar with the development of the central nervous system and the differentiation of the body axes, (b) learning about how the processes underlying the development of the central nervous system might be associated with cognitive development, (c) being informed on recent methods of investigating the developmental basis of neuro-behavioural processes.


  • Bear, M. F., Connors, B. W., & Paradiso, M. A. (Eds.). (2007). Neuroscience (Vol. 2). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. (Chapter 7)
  • Vandenberg, L. N., & Levin, M. (2013). A unified model for left–right asymmetry? Comparison and synthesis of molecular models of embryonic laterality. Developmental biology, 379(1), 1-15.
  • Kersbergen, K. J., Leroy, F., Išgum, I., Groenendaal, F., de Vries, L. S., Claessens, N. H., ... & Viergever, M. A. (2016). Relation between clinical risk factors, early cortical changes, and neurodevelopmental outcome in preterm infants. Neuroimage, 142, 301- 310.
  • Thomason, M. E., Scheinost, D., Manning, J. H., Grove, L. E., Hect, J., Marshall, N., ... & Hassan, S. S. (2017). Weak functional connectivity in the human fetal brain prior to preterm birth. Scientific reports, 7, 39286.

Course location

Forum 2

Course requirements


Instructor information.

Anna-Lisa Schuler

University of Vienna


Anna-Lisa Schuler studied Biological Psychology and Indology at the University of Vienna as well as Clinical Neurosciences at the Medical University of Vienna. She has worked on the influence of brain stimulation (TMS, tDCS) on neural oscillations of smokers, outcome research including children that had prenatal imaging as well as the neural foundations of the creative personality. Furthermore, she worked on philosophy of language from the perspective of middle period Indian philosophers.