The National Institutes of Health this week awarded 13 grants to research institutions around the country as part of a landmark study about the effects of adolescent substance use on the developing brain.
The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study will follow approximately 10,000 children beginning at ages 9 to10, before they initiate drug use, through the period of highest risk for substance use and other mental health disorders. Scientists will track exposure to substances (including nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana), academic achievement, cognitive skills, mental health, and brain structure and function using advanced research methods.
The ABCD Study will seek to address many questions related to substance use and development that will help inform prevention and treatment research priorities, public health strategies, and policy decisions, including:
- What is the impact of occasional versus regular use of marijuana, alcohol, tobacco, and other substances, alone or in combination, on the structure and function of the developing brain?
- How does the use of specific substances impact the risk for using other substances?
- What are the brain pathways that link adolescent substance use and risk for mental illnesses?
- What impact does substance use have on physical health, psychological development, information processing, learning and memory, academic achievement, social development, and other behaviors?
- What factors (such as prenatal exposure, genetics, head trauma, and demographics) influence the development of substance use and its consequences?
The 13 grants issued today (attached) will fund a Coordinating Center, a Data Analysis and Informatics Center, and 11 research project sites. The requests for applications and other information about the ABCD Study, including protection of patient confidentiality and parental consent, can be found at https://addictionresearch.nih.gov/adolescent-brain-cognitive-development-study.