The University of Rochester Medical Center is participating in a long-term study of brain development and child health.
The study will follow the biological and behavioral development of more than 10,000 children from ages 9-10 through early adulthood.
The study is enrolling participants from the Gates-Chili, East Irondequoit, Rush-Henrietta, Churchville-Chili and Spencerport school districts; and is continuing enrollment from the city of Rochester, Webster and Greece districts.
The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study was created by the National Institutes of Health to evaluate the developmental period during which the brain undergoes dramatic changes. The study will seek to better understand how children’s experiences impact brain maturation and other aspects of their lives, including academic achievement, social development, behavior and overall health.
“Adolescence is a time of extraordinary physical, emotional, and intellectual growth,” said John Foxe, director of the Del Monte Neuroscience Institute and principal investigator of the URMC ABCD Study. “Yet there is a great deal that we don’t know about how experiences such as participation in sports or music programs, screen time, sleep patterns and long-term exposure to medications and stimulants impact their transition to adulthood.”
URMC has joined with 20 other research sites across the nation, resulting in an expected $1 million boost in federal support per year to the Medical Center over the next 10 years.
URMC is in the process of recruiting 275 local children to participate in the study. Research participants and their parents will be interviewed by researchers and complete surveys, and the children will perform games and puzzles designed to measure their cognitive function. Every two years, the children will also undergo MRI scans, which will allow researchers to safely and non-invasively collect a detailed image of the structure of their brains.
URMC recently acquired a Siemens 3 Tesla Prisma MRI scanner that will be used for this project. The Medical Center has also assembled a team of 12 neuroscientists, technicians, post-doctoral fellows and research assistants to carry out the decade-long study.
“Children’s brains undergo tremendous structural changes during the period of adolescence,” said Edward Freedman, an associate professor in the URMC Department of Neuroscience. “Our hope is that this study will enable us to identify and ultimately predict and prevent developmental problems and understand the protective social and biological building blocks that result in healthy and productive young adults.”
URMC scientists have been working closely with the region’s public and parochial schools to identify and recruit children to participate in the study, which has received support from the majority of the superintendents in the greater Rochester region.
The ABCD study is supported by the National Cancer Institute, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, the NIH Office on Research on Women’s Health and the Division of Adolescent and School Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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