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Father Trials: Hormonal and Behavioral Experiments on Prenatal and Postnatal Parenting

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "FATHER TRIALS" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: DE BOELELAAN 1105
postcode: 1081 HV

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Netherlands [NL]
 Project website
 Total cost 2˙460˙500 €
 EC max contribution 2˙460˙500 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2014-ADG
 Funding Scheme ERC-ADG
 Starting year 2016
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2016-01-01   to  2020-12-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    STICHTING VU NL (AMSTERDAM) coordinator 1˙721˙992.00
2    UNIVERSITEIT LEIDEN NL (LEIDEN) participant 738˙507.00


 Project objective

Fathers have largely been neglected in parenting research -- although they constitute about 50% of parents. The aim of the proposed project is to test the hypothesis that fathers’ parenting is under hormonal control and can be changed by behavioral and hormonal interventions. I propose a series of randomized controlled trials (RCT) focusing on a critical phase of parenthood: the transition to having the first baby. I will test whether experiments that modulate oxytocin and testosterone levels enhance fathers’ neural processing of infant signals and of threats to the infant and stimulate fathers’ parenting quality and involvement in parenting.

Drawing firm conclusions about the neural and hormonal basis of human parenting is critically dependent on RCTs. I propose two types of experiments: (1) within-subject trials, using nasal administration of oxytocin, testosterone, and a placebo, and (2) between-subject trials, using behavioral interventions aimed at promoting sensitive parenting and physical contact. The behavioral interventions include prenatal and postnatal video feedback intervention (in the prenatal phase based on ultrasound scans) and the use of soft baby carriers. Both types of trials take place 3 months before the infant’s birth, and 2 and 7 months afterwards.

A special focus lies on the aspect of protection: a dimension of parenting that has received considerable attention in animal research but, despite its evolutionary importance, not in studies on humans. Testing the efficacy of the behavioral experiments in boosting fathers’ protective parenting and participation in caregiving activities has clear practical significance (for fathers, mothers, children, and society). At the same time, examining the hormonal and neural mechanisms is crucial for the development of theory on the interplay between neuroscience and parenting.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Annemieke M. Witte, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Ohad Szepsenwol, Dana Shai
Predicting infant–father attachment: the role of pre- and postnatal triadic family alliance and paternal testosterone levels
published pages: 1-15, ISSN: 1461-6734, DOI: 10.1080/14616734.2019.1680713
Attachment & Human Development 2020-02-13
2019 Andrea P. Cortes Hidalgo, Ryan Muetzel, Maartje P.C.M. Luijk, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Hanan El Marroun, Meike W. Vernooij, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Tonya White, Henning Tiemeier
Observed infant-parent attachment and brain morphology in middle childhood– A population-based study
published pages: 100724, ISSN: 1878-9293, DOI: 10.1016/j.dcn.2019.100724
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 40 2020-02-13
2019 Madelon M.E. Riem, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
Hippocampal volume modulates salivary oxytocin level increases after intranasal oxytocin administration
published pages: 182-185, ISSN: 0306-4530, DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.11.015
Psychoneuroendocrinology 101 2020-02-13
2019 A. Voorthuis, M.J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.H. van IJzendoorn
Testosterone reactivity to infant crying and caregiving in women: The role of oral contraceptives and basal cortisol
published pages: 101191, ISSN: 0163-6383, DOI: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2017.08.002
Infant Behavior and Development 56 2020-02-13
2019 Marian J. Bakermans‐Kranenburg, Anna Lotz, Kim Alyousefi‐van Dijk, Marinus IJzendoorn
Birth of a Father: Fathering in the First 1,000 Days
published pages: 247-253, ISSN: 1750-8592, DOI: 10.1111/cdep.12347
Child Development Perspectives 13/4 2020-02-13
2020 Martine W.F.T. Verhees, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Eva Ceulemans, Simon de Winter, Tara Santens, Kaat Alaerts, Kristina Casteels, Elske Salemink, Johan Verhaeghe, Guy Bosmans
Combining oxytocin and cognitive bias modification training in a randomized controlled trial: Effects on trust in maternal support
published pages: 101514, ISSN: 0005-7916, DOI: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2019.101514
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 66 2019-10-17
2019 Pietro De Carli, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Laura Parolin, Carlotta Lega, Beatrice Zanardo, Zaira Cattaneo, Madelon M. E. Riem
A walk on the dark side : TMS over the right inferior frontal gyrus (rIFG) disrupts behavioral responses to infant stimuli
published pages: 697-704, ISSN: 1747-0919, DOI: 10.1080/17470919.2019.1574891
Social Neuroscience 14/6 2019-10-14
2019 Renate S. M. Buisman, Marian J. Bakermans‐Kranenburg, Katharina Pittner, Laura H. C. G. Compier‐de Block, Lisa J. M. van den Berg, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Marieke S. Tollenaar, Bernet M. Elzinga, Jolanda Lindenberg, Lenneke R. A. Alink
Parents’ experiences of childhood abuse and neglect are differentially associated with behavioral and autonomic responses to their offspring
published pages: 888-902, ISSN: 0012-1630, DOI: 10.1002/dev.21822
Developmental Psychobiology 61/6 2019-10-14
2019 Kim Alyousefi-van Dijk, Anna E. van ‘t Veer, Willemijn M. Meijer, Anna M. Lotz, Jolien Rijlaarsdam, Jurriaan Witteman, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
Vasopressin Differentially Affects Handgrip Force of Expectant Fathers in Reaction to Own and Unknown Infant Faces
published pages: , ISSN: 1662-5153, DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00105
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 13 2019-10-08
2019 Anna E van ‘t Veer, Sandra Thijssen, Jurriaan Witteman, Marinus H van IJzendoorn, Marian J Bakermans-Kranenburg
Exploring the neural basis for paternal protection: an investigation of the neural response to infants in danger
published pages: 447-457, ISSN: 1749-5024, DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsz018
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 14/4 2019-10-08
2019 Willemijn M Meijer, Marinus H van IJzendoorn, Marian J Bakermans - Kranenburg
Challenging the challenge hypothesis on testosterone in fathers: Limited meta-analytic support
published pages: 104435, ISSN: 0306-4530, DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.104435
Psychoneuroendocrinology 110 2019-10-08
2019 J. Witteman, M.H. Van IJzendoorn, J.K. Rilling, P.A. Bos, N.O. Schiller, M.J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
Towards a neural model of infant cry perception
published pages: 23-32, ISSN: 0149-7634, DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.01.026
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 99 2019-10-08
2019 Laura Kolijn, Rens Huffmeijer, Bianca G. Van Den Bulk, Claudia I. Vrijhof, Marinus H. Van Ijzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
Effects of the Video-feedback intervention to promote positive parenting and sensitive discipline on mothers’ neural responses to child faces: A randomized controlled ERP study including pre- and post-intervention measures
published pages: 1-15, ISSN: 1747-0919, DOI: 10.1080/17470919.2019.1660709
Social Neuroscience 2019-10-08
2017 Beth L. Mah, Marinus H. Van Ijzendoorn, Dorothee Out, Roger Smith, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
The Effects of Intranasal Oxytocin Administration on Sensitive Caregiving in Mothers with Postnatal Depression
published pages: 308-315, ISSN: 0009-398X, DOI: 10.1007/s10578-016-0642-7
Child Psychiatry & Human Development 48/2 2019-07-04
2016 Jolien Rijlaarsdam, Irene Pappa, Esther Walton, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Viara R. Mileva-Seitz, Ralph C.A. Rippe, Sabine J. Roza, Vincent W.V. Jaddoe, Frank C. Verhulst, Janine F. Felix, Charlotte A.M. Cecil, Caroline L. Relton, Tom R. Gaunt, Wendy McArdle, Jonathan Mill, Edward D. Barker, Henning Tiemeier, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn
An epigenome-wide association meta-analysis of prenatal maternal stress in neonates: A model approach for replication
published pages: 140-149, ISSN: 1559-2294, DOI: 10.1080/15592294.2016.1145329
Epigenetics 11/2 2019-07-04
2016 Jiska Kentrop, Liza van der Tas, Manila Loi, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marian Joëls, Rixt van der Veen
Mifepristone Treatment during Early Adolescence Fails to Restore Maternal Deprivation-Induced Deficits in Behavioral Inhibition of Adult Male Rats
published pages: , ISSN: 1662-5153, DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00122
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 10 2019-07-04
2016 Madelon M.E. Riem, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn
Intranasal administration of oxytocin modulates behavioral and amygdala responses to infant crying in females with insecure attachment representations
published pages: 213-234, ISSN: 1461-6734, DOI: 10.1080/14616734.2016.1149872
Attachment & Human Development 18/3 2019-07-04
2016 Anna Elisabeth van \'t Veer, Roger Giner-Sorolla
Pre-registration in social psychology—A discussion and suggested template
published pages: 2-12, ISSN: 0022-1031, DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2016.03.004
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 67 2019-07-04
2017 Sandra Thijssen, Ryan L. Muetzel, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Vincent W. V. Jaddoe, Henning Tiemeier, Frank C. Verhulst, Tonya White, Marinus H. Van Ijzendoorn
Insensitive parenting may accelerate the development of the amygdala–medial prefrontal cortex circuit
published pages: 505-518, ISSN: 0954-5794, DOI: 10.1017/S0954579417000141
Development and Psychopathology 29/02 2019-07-04
2017 Ruth Feldman, Marian J Bakermans-Kranenburg
Oxytocin: a parenting hormone
published pages: 13-18, ISSN: 2352-250X, DOI: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.02.011
Current Opinion in Psychology 15 2019-07-04
2016 Esther Heckendorf, Renske Huffmeijer, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn
Neural Processing of Familiar and Unfamiliar Children’s Faces: Effects of Experienced Love Withdrawal, but No Effects of Neutral and Threatening Priming
published pages: , ISSN: 1662-5161, DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00231
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 10 2019-07-04
2017 Madelon M. E. Riem, Marinus H. Van Ijzendoorn, Christine E. Parsons, Katherine S. Young, Pietro De Carli, Morten L. Kringelbach, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
Experimental manipulation of infant temperament affects amygdala functional connectivity
published pages: , ISSN: 1530-7026, DOI: 10.3758/s13415-017-0518-8
Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience 2019-07-04
2017 M. M. E. Riem, M. H. van IJzendoorn, P. De Carli, A. J. J. M. Vingerhoets, M. J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
As tears go by: Baby tears trigger more brain activity than adult tears in nulliparous women
published pages: 1-4, ISSN: 1747-0919, DOI: 10.1080/17470919.2016.1247012
Social Neuroscience 2019-07-04
2017 Marian J Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marinus H van IJzendoorn
Protective parenting: neurobiological and behavioral dimensions
published pages: 45-49, ISSN: 2352-250X, DOI: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.02.001
Current Opinion in Psychology 15 2019-07-04
2017 Van ‘t Veer, A., Hafkemeijer, A., Van Steenbergen, H., & Bas-Hoogendam, J.M
Manual B0 unwarping Philips scanner in FEAT
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI:
2016 M. H. van IJzendoorn, M. J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
The Role of Oxytocin in Parenting and as Augmentative Pharmacotherapy: Critical Issues and Bold Conjectures
published pages: , ISSN: 0953-8194, DOI: 10.1111/jne.12355
Journal of Neuroendocrinology 28/8 2019-07-04
2016 M.J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.H. van IJzendoorn
Attachment, Parenting, and Genetics
published pages: 155-179, ISSN: , DOI:
Handbook of Attachment, 3rd Edition 2019-05-07
2017 Femmie Juffer, Estelle Struis, Claudia Werner, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
Effective preventive interventions to support parents of young children: Illustrations from the Video-feedback Intervention to promote Positive Parenting and Sensitive Discipline (VIPP-SD)
published pages: 202-214, ISSN: 1085-2352, DOI: 10.1080/10852352.2016.1198128
Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community 45/3 2019-05-07
2017 Elizabeth T. Hallers-Haalboom, Marleen G. Groeneveld, Sheila R. van Berkel, Joyce J. Endendijk, Lotte D. van der Pol, Mariëlle Linting, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Judi Mesman
Mothers’ and fathers’ sensitivity with their two children: A longitudinal study from infancy to early childhood.
published pages: 860-872, ISSN: 0012-1649, DOI: 10.1037/dev0000293
Developmental Psychology 53/5 2019-05-07
2018 Femmie Juffer, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
Working with Video-feedback Intervention to promote Positive Parenting and Sensitive Discipline (VIPP-SD): A case study
published pages: 1346-1357, ISSN: 0021-9762, DOI: 10.1002/jclp.22645
Journal of Clinical Psychology 74/8 2019-05-07
2018 Sandra Thijssen, Anna E. Van \'t Veer, Jurriaan Witteman, Willemijn M. Meijer, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
Effects of vasopressin on neural processing of infant crying in expectant fathers
published pages: 19-27, ISSN: 0018-506X, DOI: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2018.05.014
Hormones and Behavior 103 2019-05-07
2017 Madelon M.E. Riem, Pietro De Carli, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Marielle Linting, Karen M. Grewen, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
Emotional maltreatment is associated with atypical responding to stimulation of endogenous oxytocin release through mechanically-delivered massage in males
published pages: 115-122, ISSN: 0306-4530, DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.08.017
Psychoneuroendocrinology 85 2019-05-07
2018 Martine W. F. T. Verhees, Janne Houben, Eva Ceulemans, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Guy Bosmans
No side-effects of single intranasal oxytocin administration in middle childhood
published pages: 2471-2477, ISSN: 0033-3158, DOI: 10.1007/s00213-018-4945-1
Psychopharmacology 235/8 2019-05-07
2017 Ashley M. Groh, Angela J. Narayan, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Glenn I. Roisman, Brian E. Vaughn, R. M. Pasco Fearon, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn
Attachment and Temperament in the Early Life Course: A Meta-Analytic Review
published pages: 770-795, ISSN: 0009-3920, DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12677
Child Development 88/3 2019-05-07
2017 Femmie Juffer, Marian J Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marinus H van IJzendoorn
Pairing attachment theory and social learning theory in video-feedback intervention to promote positive parenting
published pages: 189-194, ISSN: 2352-250X, DOI: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2017.03.012
Current Opinion in Psychology 15 2019-05-07
2016 Joyce J. Endendijk, Elizabeth T. Hallers-Haalboom, Marleen G. Groeneveld, Sheila R. van Berkel, Lotte D. van der Pol, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Judi Mesman
Diurnal testosterone variability is differentially associated with parenting quality in mothers and fathers
published pages: 68-75, ISSN: 0018-506X, DOI: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2016.01.016
Hormones and Behavior 80 2019-05-07

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