Clinical Trial Spotlight: Stress and anxiety in children

UNMC researchers are seeking parents who would be interested in having their children participate in the "Adaptive Brains Learning about Emotion (ABLE)" study. (IRB#: 529-21-FB)

About the study:

The goal of this study, led by Jennifer Blackford, PhD, director of research at the Munroe-Meyer Institute, is to understand how differences in brain function and structure may be related to anxiety in children and whether differences in a child’s stress hormones or genes (DNA) may be related to those brain differences. To answer these questions, various metrics will be compared between children who currently deal with anxiety and children who have never been anxious.

It is hoped that this research might lead to new knowledge about what causes anxiety disorders in children. Little is known about the neurobiology of childhood anxiety; therefore, the results of the study have the potential to substantially increase knowledge and inform the improvement of existing treatments and the development of novel treatments.

The study is seeking children between 8 and 12 years of age:

  • With or without any history of anxiety.
  • Who can tolerate an MRI scan (no metal in or on the body and no issues with claustrophobia).
  • Who do not have an existing neurological disorder or significant medical illness.
  • Who do not have a developmental disorder, such as autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia or ADHD.

Expectations for participants:

The study requires four visits, which will occur either at the Munroe-Meyer Institute building (MMI) or at the Core for Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (CAMRI) within the Hixon-Lied Center on the main UNMC campus:

  • Visit 1, at MMI: This initial three-hour visit includes a mental health interview, brief IQ test and a practice MRI scan.  Researchers will ask parents and the participating child to answer some questionnaires at home.
  • Visit 2, at CAMRI: This two-hour visit will involve having the participating child complete an MRI scan. The MRI scan involves looking at how the child’s brain works while they look at different pictures. Researchers will collect saliva samples to measure the child’s hormone levels during the scan.
  • Visits 3 & 4, at MMI: These short follow-up visits will involve having the child complete a computer task and a social task, with saliva samples collected at both visits.

The parents and children will receive compensation and a 3D-printed replica of the child's brain for participating in the study visits.

To express interest in having your child participle in this study:

See the study’s webpage or complete an eligibility survey.