Promotie Elsje 049 geknipt1

Dr Elsje van Bergen

Psychological Scientist


ScienceLive WvdW 3okt15 12


My research lies at the interface of psychology, education, and genetics

I study children’s cognitive development and the nature and causes of learning disorders like dyslexia. I am particularly interested in cognitive precursors of reading, genetic and environmental influences on reading, and comorbidity between developmental disorders.

I am Assistant Professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (at Biological Psychology and the Netherlands Twin Register). Before taking up this position I was a postdoctoral research fellow in developmental psychology at the University of Oxford. I did my PhD in educational sciences at the University of Amsterdam.

Job Opportunities

At the moment we are recruiting three PhD-candidates! They will be employed as researchers at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Positions 1 and 2 are in the field of behavioural genetics and study behavioural control and academic achievement. For these positions we will also consider MSc students who will start as research-project students, before being employed as PhD-candidate. The third is in genetic epidemiology and studies the link between SES and health. Note that for the second and third position Dutch is required.

Furthermore, promising young researchers who would like to work with me and Professor Boomsma and who are eligible for a fellowship can contact me. Possible fellowships for which you may be eligible include for a PhD Research Talent and for a postdoc Marie Curie Individual Fellowship and Veni. The country where you are currently based may also offer fellowships.


For links or pdf’s of my papers, please see Google Scholar or ResearchGate.

In English:

de Jong, P.F. & van Bergen, E. (2017). Issues in diagnosing dyslexia. In E. Segers & P.W. van den Broek, Developmental Perspectives in Written Language and Literacy. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. DOI: 10.1075/z.206.21dej [pdf]

van Bergen, E., van Zuijen, T.L., Bishop, D.V.M., & de Jong, P.F. (2017). Why are home-literacy environment and children’s reading skills associated? What parental skills reveal. Reading Research Quarterly, 52(2), 147-160. DOI: 10.1002/rrq.160 [pdf]

Veldkamp, S., van Bergen, E., de Zeeuw, E., van Beijsterveldt, C., Boomsma, D.I., & Bartels, M. (2017). Bullying and victimization in twins: the effect of classroom sharing and other twin-specific factors. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 20(1), 19-27. DOI: [pdf]

Swagerman, S.C., van Bergen, E., Dolan, C., de Geus, E.J.C., Koenis, M.M.G., Hulshoff Pol, H.E., Boomsma, D.I. (2017). Genetic transmission of reading ability. Brain & Language, 172, 3-8. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2015.07.008 [pdf]

CarrionCastillo, A., van Bergen, E., Vino, A., van Zuijen, T.L., de Jong, P.F., Francks, C., Fisher, S.E. (2016). Evaluation of results from genome-wide studies of language and reading in a novel independent dataset. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 15(6), 531-541. DOI: 10.1111/gbb.12299

Swagerman, S.C., van Bergen, E., Kan, K., Koenis, M.M.G., Hulshoff Pol, H.E., Boomsma, D.I., & de Geus, E.J.C., (2016). No evidence of causal effects of blood pressure on cognition in the population at large. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 19(1), 17-26. DOI: 10.1017/thg.2015.99 [pdf]

Swagerman, S.C., de Geus, E.J.C., Kan, K., van Bergen, E., Nieuwboer, H.A., Koenis, M.M.G., Hulshoff Pol, H.E., Gur, R.E., Gur, R.C., Boomsma, D.I. (2016). The Computerized Neurocognitive Battery: Validation, aging effects, and heritability across cognitive domains. Neuropsychology, 30(1), 53-64. [pdf]

van Bergen, E., Bishop, D.V.M., van Zuijen, T.L., & de Jong, P.F. (2015). How does parental reading influence children’s reading? A study of cognitive mediation. Scientific Studies of Reading, 19(5), 325-339. DOI: 10.1080/10888438.2015.1050103 [pdf]

van den Boer, M., van Bergen, E., & de Jong, P.F. (2015). The specific relation of visual attention span with reading and spelling in Dutch. Learning and Individual Differences, 39, 141-149. DOI: 10.1016/j.lindif.2015.03.017

Torppa, M., Eklund, K., van Bergen, E., & Lyytinen, H. (2015). Late emerging and resolving dyslexia: A follow-up study from age 3 to 14. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 43(7), 1389-1401. DOI: 10.1007/s10802-015-0003-1

van Bergen, E., van der Leij, A, & de Jong, P.F. (2014). The intergenerational multiple deficit model and the case of dyslexia. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8 (346). DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00346 [pdf]

van den Boer, M., van Bergen, E., & de Jong, P.F. (2014). Underlying skills of oral and silent reading. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 128, 138-151. DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2014.07.008

van Bergen, E., de Jong, P.F., Maassen, B., & van der Leij, A. (2014). The effect of parents’ literacy skills and children’s preliteracy skills on the risk of dyslexia. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 42(7), 1187-1200. DOI: 10.1007/s10802-014-9858-9

van Bergen, E., de Jong, P.F., Maassen, B., Krikhaar, E., Plakas, A., & van der Leij, A. (2014). IQ of four-year-olds who go on to develop dyslexia. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 47(5), 475-484. DOI: 10.1177/0022219413479673

van der Leij, A., van Bergen, E., van Zuijen, T., de Jong, P.F, Maurits, N., & Maassen, B. (2013). Precursors of developmental dyslexia. An overview of the longitudinal Dutch Dyslexia Programme study. Dyslexia, 19, 191-213. DOI: 10.1002/dys.1463

Litt, R.A., de Jong, P.F., van Bergen, E., & Nation, K. (2013). Dissociating crossmodal and verbal demands in paired associate learning (PAL): What drives the PAL-reading relationship? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 115(1), 137-149.

van Bergen, E. (2013). Who will develop dyslexia? Cognitive precursors in parents and children (Doctoral thesis, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands).

van der Leij, A., van Bergen, E., & de Jong, P.F (2013). Longitudinal family-risk studies of dyslexia: Why some children develop dyslexia and others don’t. In A. Fawcett & K. Saunders (Eds.), British Dyslexia Association Handbook 2013. Bracknell: British Dyslexia Association.

van Bergen, E., de Jong, P.F., Plakas, A., Maassen, B., & van der Leij, A. (2012). Child and parental literacy levels within families with a history of dyslexia. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53(1), 28-36. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2011.02418.x

Torppa, M., Eklund, K., van Bergen, E., & Lyytinen, H. (2011). Parental literacy predicts children’s literacy: A longitudinal family-risk study. Dyslexia, 17(4), 339-355. DOI: 10.1002/dys.437

van Bergen, E., de Jong, P.F., Regtvoort, A., Oort, F., S. van Otterloo, & van der Leij, A. (2011). Dutch children at family risk of dyslexia: Precursors, reading development, and parental effects. Dyslexia, 17(1), 2-18. DOI: 10.1002/dys.423

van Swieten, L.M., van Bergen, E., Williams, J.H.G., Wilson, A.D., Plumb, M.S., Kent, S.W., & Mon-Williams, M.A. (2010). A test of motor (not executive) planning in developmental coordination disorder and autism. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 36(2), 493-499.

van Bergen, E., van Swieten, L.M., Williams, J.H.G., & Mon-Williams, M. (2007). The effect of orientation on prehension movement time. Experimental Brain Research, 178(2), 180-193. DOI: 10.1007/s00221-006-0722-1

In Dutch:

van Westerloo, A. (2017). ‘Duizend genen zijn betrokken bij leesvaardigheid’; Interview with Elsje van Bergen. Balans Magazine, November Issue, 24-27. [pdf]

van Bergen, E. (2016). Familiair- en erfelijkheidsonderzoek naar dyslexie. In Van den Broeck, W. (Ed.). Handboek dyslexieonderzoek. Wetenschappelijke inzichten in de diagnostiek, oorzaken, preventie en behandeling van dyslexie. Leuven: Acco. [pdf]

Work Experience

  • 2015 - Present

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

    Assistant Professor
    I work at the Dept. of Biological Psychology, which hosts the Netherlands Twin Register. I am funded by  a Veni Early Career Fellowship (2016-2019).  In addition, I am a member of Oriel College, University of Oxford.

  • 2012 - 2017

    University of Oxford

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    I did my postdoc at the University of Oxford, dept. of Experimental Psychology, in Professor Bishop‘s lab. I was funded by a Rubicon Fellowship from NWO and a Junior Research Fellowship from Oriel College (both 2012-2015). I stayed on for another two years as Visiting Academic.

  • 2008 - 2012

    University of Amsterdam

    PhD Student
    I conducted my PhD research at the University of Amsterdam, Research Institute of Child Development and Education, supervised by Professor de Jong and Professor van der Leij. In 2013 I defended my thesis, called “Who will develop dyslexia? Cognitive precursors in parents and children”.

  • before 2008

    Amsterdam & Aberdeen

    I obtained a Bachelor and Master (both cum laude) in Human Movement Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, specialising in learning and development of movement coordination. During and after my BSc and MSc I worked as a teaching- and research-assistant. My MSc included a 6-month internship at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, where I studied reach-to-grasp movements in Professor Mon-William‘s lab.


I mostly teach research methods and statistics. My current teaching includes contributing to the Bachelor Psychology (Methodology 3: Genes, brain & behaviour and Interplay between genes and environment) and the Summer School Twin Research and Human Genetics.


Linked In



Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Biological Psychology
Van der Boechorststraat 1
1081 BT Amsterdam
the Netherlands


+31 20 5988944

Transistorium building, room 2B-47