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UR looking for children to take part in brain study

September 25, 2017 07:01 PM

ROCHESTER — The University of Rochester is looking for children to be part of the biggest childhood brain study ever.

The Ernest Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester is one of 21 institutions taking part in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study which will track children’s biological and behavioral development through adolescence into young adulthood.  The hope of the study is determine how much your child’s habits and hobbies impact her brain development.

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Local researchers are looking for 300 nine-year-old children from school across Monroe County to participate in the 10-year study.

“The impact of screen time, the impact of sports, contact sports, the impact of tobacco use or energy drinks... all of those things will be asked about and studied and tracked for the next ten years,” says Dr. Ed Freedman, one of the lead researchers for the ABCD study.

The children will come in once a year and spend six to eight hours answering questions, filling out surveys and performing games and puzzles designed to measure cognitive function. Every other year, the child will also get a non-invasive MRI.

“We'll be in the position to put together a brain evolution, a brain development chart that will show what the normal brain looks like and this is the span around it and if a child is down here or up here, maybe they are someone that we need to target or point out for specific intervention,” says Dr. John Foxe, Director of the Institute and principal investigator for the study.

The data collected in the Rochester area will be combined with the data collected in other areas of the country. “We'll be able to pull out large groups of children who are for example, playing football and say something meaningful about what happened to them over the course of a decade, what was the impact,” Dr. Foxe says.

Currently, while there are a number of studies that have been conducted using brain scans of children and teens after a concussion, this study will be able compare the brain both before and after an incident.

The research team is also interested in how neurological development issues begin, how screen-time impacts development over the course of several years, environmental exposures that could lead to issues and whether tobacco, drugs and alcohol impact brain growth and development.

“The kids that are nine or ten now may get excited about doing science because they've been part of the biggest science study about them, that's ever happened,” says Dr. Freedman.

Parents whose children are accepted into the study will get paid $200 per year for their time. Children will also get gift cards and prizes. The researchers are working with local schools like Greece, Webster, Honeoye Falls and Rochester to send information about the study home to parents.

If you’re interested you can find more information by clicking here.

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Jennifer Lewke

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