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Landmark Study Will Shed Light on ADHD and Brain Development

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The adolescent years are a time of rapid brain growth and development, along with social development for the young person. It’s during these years that many mental health concerns first develop or become problematic. How brain development and social, emotional, and cognitive development of teens are intertwined is the focus of a ground-breaking new study.

Researchers for Collaborative Research on Addiction at The National Institutes of Health (CRAN) began recruiting 9 and 10 year olds in September 2016 for the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study. The 10-year ABCD Study will follow 10,000 children starting at the ages of 9 and 10 into young adulthood. This will be the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States.

CHADD is one of the ABCD Study partners, as part of CHADD’s commitment to supporting brain science research.

“The ABCD Study of brain development and functioning in the adolescent years is an important and welcome investigation,” says Max Wiznitzer, MD, co-chair of CHADD’s Professional Advisory Board. “It’s one that will provide much needed and useful information that has the potential to influence educational, social, and medical interventions and to identify factors that might prevent unwanted and poor outcomes in the ADHD population.”

Results from this study will help researchers understand how the brain develops and will provide data for scientists to study the onset and progression of cognitive disorders, including ADHD. Among the questions researchers are asking in this study is, “What are the long-term effects of ADHD medications on academics and health?”

The study participants are recruited from schools near each of the 21 research sites throughout the United States. Researchers will use brain imaging to observe how the brain grows and develops and examine how biology and the environment affect the development of physical and mental health and life achievements.

The study, according to its website description, will use cutting-edge technology to help scientists “determine how childhood experiences (such as sports, video games, social media, unhealthy sleep patterns, and smoking) interact with each other and with a child’s changing biology to affect brain development and—ultimately—social, behavioral, academic, health, and other outcomes.”

The researchers plan to use new techniques in neuroimaging and advances in computing and analytics to better analyze information. Researchers hope to provide information that will help parents, health professionals, educators, and other researchers improve the health and well-being of children. Given how large, extensive, and long the ABCD Study will be, the data and results may lead to better diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes for individuals affected by ADHD.

For more information, visit the ABCD Study.

Share your thoughts on this research project.

This article appeared in ADHD Weekly on December 01, 2016.

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