Adolescence is a time of dramatic changes in brain structure and function, and the adolescent brain is highly susceptible to being altered by experiences like substance use. However, there is much we have yet to learn about how these experiences influence brain development, how they promote or interfere with later health outcomes, or even what healthy brain development looks like. A large longitudinal study beginning in early adolescence could help us understand the normal variability in adolescent brain and cognitive development and tease apart the many factors that influence it. Recent advances in neuroimaging, informatics, and genetics technologies have made it feasible to conduct a study of sufficient size and scope to answer many outstanding questions. At the same time, several Institutes across the NIH recognized the value of collaborating in such a project because of its ability to address the role of biological, environmental, and behavioral factors like gender, pubertal hormones, sports participation, and social/economic disparities on brain development as well as their association with the emergence and progression of substance use and mental illness including suicide risk. Thus, the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study was created to answer the most pressing public health questions of our day.
The conception of the ABCD study
From substance use to a broad NIH collaboration
Volkow, N. D., Koob, G. F., Croyle, R. T., Bianchi, D. W., Gordon, J. A., Koroshetz, W. J., Perez-Stable, E. J., Riley, W. T., Bloch, M. H., Conway, K., Deeds, B. G., Dowling, G. J., Grant, S., Howlett, K. D., Matochik, J. A., Morgan, G. D., Murray, M. M., Noronha, A., Spong, C. Y., ... Weiss, S. R. B. (2018). The conception of the ABCD study: From substance use to a broad NIH collaboration. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 32, 4-7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2017.10.002