The ABCD study is recruiting and following the brain development and health of over 10,000 9–10 year olds through adolescence. The imaging component of the study was developed by the ABCD Data Analysis and Informatics Center (DAIC) and the ABCD Imaging Acquisition Workgroup. Imaging methods and assessments were selected, optimized and harmonized across all 21 sites to measure brain structure and function relevant to adolescent development and addiction. This article provides an overview of the imaging procedures of the ABCD study, the basis for their selection and preliminary quality assurance and results that provide evidence for the feasibility and age-appropriateness of procedures and generalizability of findings to the existent literature.
The adolescent brain cognitive development study external advisory board
Why should the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study (ABCD Study) have an External Advisory Board (EAB)? ABCD Study has approximately two-dozen principal investigators, all experts and leaders in the diverse fields of study required to accomplish ABCD Study’s goals. Furthermore, as part of an NIH consortium, ABCD Study investigators work in close collaboration with scientific experts from multiple National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutes and Offices (https://abcdstudy.org/federal-partners.html) and have ready access to their expertise. And NIH has constituted an Observational Study Management Board (OSMB) to offer oversight and counsel to ABCD Study regarding myriad ethical issues that might arise in the course of a 10-year longitudinal study of 10,000 children. So why also have an EAB? In a way, it is the organizational structure of ABCD Study, its cost, its complexity, its extraordinarily ambitious goals, and its importance to the scientific community and public health that together obligate oversight from an unbiased set of experts who can advise ABCD Study across a wide range of issues.
Retention efforts are critical to maintain relationships with research participants over time. This is especially important for the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, where families are asked to stay engaged with the study throughout the course of 10 years. This high-degree of involvement is essential to longitudinally track child and adolescent development. At a minimum, we will connect with families every 6 months by telephone, and every year in person, with closer contact with the youth directly as they transition into adolescence. Differential retention, when related to non-random issues pertaining to demographic or risk features, can negatively impact the generalizability of study outcomes. Thus, to ensure high rates of retention for all participants, the ABCD study employs a number of efforts to support youth and families. This overview details the framework and concrete steps for retention.
Demographic, physical and mental health assessments in the adolescent brain and cognitive development study: Rationale and description
The Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study incorporates a comprehensive range of measures assessing predictors and outcomes related to both mental and physical health across childhood and adolescence. The workgroup developed a battery that would assess a comprehensive range of domains that address study aims while minimizing participant and family burden. We review the major considerations that went into deciding what constructs to cover in the demographics, physical health and mental health domains, as well as the process of selecting measures, piloting and refining the originally proposed battery. We present a description of the baseline battery, as well as the six-month interim assessments and the one-year follow-up assessments. This battery includes assessments from the perspectives of both the parent and the target youth, as well as teacher reports. This battery will provide a foundational baseline assessment of the youth’s current function so as to permit characterization of stability and change in key domains over time. The findings from this battery will also be utilized to identify both resilience markers that predict healthy development and risk factors for later adverse outcomes in physical health, mental health, and substance use and abuse.
The conception of the ABCD study: From substance use to a broad NIH collaboration
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 utility of twins in developmental cognitive neuroscience research: How twins strengthen the ABCD research design
The ABCD twin study will elucidate the genetic and environmental contributions to a wide range of mental and physical health outcomes in children, including substance use, brain and behavioral development, and their interrelationship. Comparisons within and between monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs, further powered by multiple assessments, provide information about genetic and environmental contributions to developmental associations, and enable stronger tests of causal hypotheses, than do comparisons involving unrelated children. Thus a sub-study of 800 pairs of same-sex twins was embedded within the overall Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) design. The ABCD Twin Hub comprises four leading centers for twin research in Minnesota, Colorado, Virginia, and Missouri. Each site is enrolling 200 twin pairs, as well as singletons. The twins are recruited from registries of all twin births in each State during 2006–2008. Singletons at each site are recruited following the same school-based procedures as the rest of the ABCD study. This paper describes the background and rationale for the ABCD twin study, the ascertainment of twin pairs and implementation strategy at each site, and the details of the proposed analytic strategies to quantify genetic and environmental influences and test hypotheses critical to the aims of the ABCD study.
Biomedical ethics and clinical oversight in multisite observational neuroimaging studies with children and adolescents: The ABCD experience
Observational neuroimaging studies with children and adolescents may identify neurological anomalies and other clinically relevant findings. Planning for the management of this information involves ethical considerations that may influence informed consent, confidentiality, and communication with participants about assessment results. Biomedical ethics principles include respect for autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. Each project presents unique challenges. The Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development study (ABCD) collaborators have systematically developed recommendations with written guidelines for identifying and responding to potential risks that adhere to biomedical ethics principles. To illustrate, we will review the ABCD approach to three areas: (1) hazardous substance use; (2) neurological anomalies; and (3) imminent potential for self-harm or harm to others. Each ABCD site is responsible for implementing procedures consistent with these guidelines in accordance with their Institutional Review Board approved protocols, state regulations, and local resources. To assure that each site has related plans and resources in place, site emergency procedures manuals have been developed, documented and reviewed for adherence to ABCD guidelines. This article will describe the principles and process used to develop these ABCD bioethics and medical oversight guidelines, the concerns and options considered, and the resulting approaches advised to sites.