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URPP Adaptive Brain Circuits in Development and Learning (AdaBD)

Platform for Learning and Learning Disorders

The project

Developmental learning disorders such as reading and spelling disorders and math learning disability affect on average at least two children in every class and can be a substantial burden for the affected child, their family, and their school. Affected children struggle despite efforts and typically achieve lower academic and professional qualifications as expected due to their intellectual abilities. This can lead to severe secondary issues like school refusal, socio-emotional problems, or aggressive behavior. In addition, learning disorders frequently occur in combination or are accompanied by other developmental challenges, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These combinations can significantly exacerbate the difficulties faced.

To enhance the educational success and overall well-being of affected individuals, there is an urgent need for better and earlier diagnosis and interventions. To reach this goal, we require more research into the causes of learning disorders, including environmental influences, alterations in brain development, and genetic predisposition.

The platform for learning and learning disorders (LLD) aims to foster collaborations in basic and applied research across faculties of the University of Zurich (UZH) and other relevant institutions. For instance, the platform will build up a database with data from several research projects of the URPP AdaBD and beyond. Improved scientific knowledge, diagnostics and treatment options, however, will only improve outcome for individuals with learning disorders if relevant stakeholders are well informed. Therefore, the platform will not only focus on research, but also ensure effective dissemination of scientific knowledge by providing educational activities, information, and materials for different stakeholders such as parents, children, affected people, institutions of education, schools, psychological services and special education teachers, patient organizations, pediatricians, and researchers.


Services of the platform

  • Fostering and increasing efficiency of collaborative research projects, e.g. by organizing regular brainstorming and troubleshoothing meetings
  • Building up a cross-disorders research database with data from AdaBD research projects
  • Supporting AdaBD research projects with recruitment of study participants, grant applications, ethics approvals
  • Comprehensive and up-to-date information materials on learning disorders for different stakeholders
  • Advice in the areas of diagnosis and therapy of learning disorders
  • Educational activities including lectures and workshops



Silvia Brem, Prof. Dr., Head Developmental Neuroimaging Group, Dep. of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Karin Kucian, PD Dr., Head Dyscalculia Research Group, University Children's Hospital Zurich

Leonie Holste, M.A., Coordinator



  • Discussion seminar on challenges in fMRI analyses in children data
    Monday 13.05.2024, 10.00-12.00
    OH1-E09, University Children’s Hospital Zurich