Why is this study being done?
Research has indicated that depressive illness is the second leading cause of disability, and it frequently begins in adolescence and persists into adult life. Childhood trauma can induce long-term brain changes leading to depression and other health problems. Trauma-related depression is more severe and does not respond well to traditional treatments.
We are studying differences in brain networks associated with depression caused by childhood trauma and depression due to other causes. A better understanding of these differences can be helpful in developing better medical and non-medical interventions for childhood trauma victims.
What does the study involve?
Participants in the Brain Development Study come to 2 – 3 visits and receive up to $315 for their time and effort, as well as mileage compensation to/from study visits.
- Visit 1 (about 3 – 4 hours): Teens and their parents/guardians complete interviews and questionnaires. Teens are also asked to provide a small blood sample by finger prick.
- Visit 2 (about 2 hours): Teens play some games on and off of the computer. These games assess things like memory, attention, problem-solving abilities, etc.
- Visit 3 (about 2 – 2.5 hours): Teens participate in a practice MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan lasting about 30 minutes, and then they participate in a real MRI scan lasting 1.5 hours. The MRI allows us to take pictures of the brain. During some portions of the scan, teens will be asked to press buttons when certain images appear on a screen. This allows us to see which parts of the brain are working on the tasks, and how different parts of the brain communicate with one another.
Am I eligible to participate?
We are recruiting adolescent boys and girls between the ages of 13 to 17, and their parent or legal guardian. Teens do not have to have depression or a history of trauma in order to be eligible for this research study. However, there is a complicated set of eligibility criteria for this study, so we’d need to ask both the teen and their parent/guardian some questions to determine if they are eligible to participate. Because this study involves an MRI, teens with dental braces, or other metal in or on the body that cannot be removed are not eligible to participate.
What are the benefits of participating?
In addition to receiving compensation for their time and effort, participants will receive a free comprehensive psychiatric diagnostic assessment and neuropsychiatric testing. Many clinical programs have waiting lists that can span several months for these types of assessments. We can also help with referrals for those who need help with psychiatric evaluations and treatment, and we can share the results of our assessments with the participant’s clinician upon request with the parent/guardian’s and teen’s permission.
Is it safe to have an MRI?
MRIs are considered very safe, and they are completely painless. They do not use radiation to take pictures the way a CAT scan or an X-ray does, and teens do not take any contrast, dyes, or medications for the MRI for this research study. The MRI scanner does use powerful magnets to take pictures, so teens are not eligible to participate if they have metal in/on their body that is not compatible with the MRI (such as dental braces, pacemakers, etc.). People who have claustrophobia (a fear of small/tight spaces) or who are very sensitive to loud noises may not want to participate in an MRI because it may be uncomfortable for them. The MRI does make loud noises as it takes pictures (beeping, knocking sounds, etc.) so participants are given ear plugs to protect their ears. Check out the video below for more information on participating in an MRI visit!
Video by Director/Filmmaker Aniya Wolfe (www.beautysceneproductions.com)