NIH to Launch Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study
 
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Gayathri J. Dowling (NIH)

June 2016

This summer the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is launching a major longitudinal study on child health and brain development that will be of interest to many in the education research field. The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, which examines how childhood experiences affect brain and cognitive development of adolescents, will be implemented through schools and will include teacher assessments of children in addition to child and parental interviews.

The largest study ever undertaken on child health and brain development, it will involve roughly 10,000 children from 19 diverse communities across the United States, beginning at ages 9 and 10, following them into adulthood. It will use advanced brain imaging to observe brain growth and includes a breadth of social, behavioral, and contextual measures.

The ABCD Study intends to consider many childhood experiences that affect brain, social, emotional, and cognitive development, including those that directly affect classroom behavior and academic success. Some of the areas to be studied include sleep, attention, substance use, physical activity, and sports injuries.

The study is expected to produce a wealth of data and knowledge about school practices and student behavior that can be used to address important issues in education research and policy, such as student achievement, extracurricular activity participation, and long-term student learning outcomes. Moreover, the study includes a robust data-sharing and access plan.

Once underway, the study will use an open science model through the NIH data archive, making curated data available after one year, and raw data available a month after data collection.

“Our study will be looking at many childhood experiences that affect brain, social, emotional, and cognitive development, including those that directly affect classroom behavior and academic success,” said Gayathri J. Dowling, director of the ABCD project at NIH. “Understanding the relationships among these experiences and their effects on the developing brain will provide answers that can inform educational practices and policy and, ultimately, improve the health and success of our youth.”

Dowling briefed AERA Council at its June 2016 meeting on the study and project plans. 

 
 
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