Child Brain Study

We are conducting a study on brain development in 7- to 10-year-old children. We are interested in understanding how kids think and act, how their brains develop, and how these factors compare in children whose mothers do or don’t have a history of depression. This study involves up to four appointments: two in-person parent interviews and child assessments and up to two child MRI scans.

The main goal of the study is to help us better understand how factors, such as mother’s history of depression and child brain development, contribute to resilience and risk for depression. As a part of the study you and your child will each have an assessment with a trained clinician and we will ask you and your child questions about how they think and feel,. They will also play different games where they can win toys and candy. Finally, your child will take part in an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan that will create pictures of their brain’s structure and let us see how their brain reacts when they are looking at pictures, playing games, or just quietly resting.

MRI is considered low risk and safe for children of all ages because it does not use X-rays or radiation to look at the brain. Instead, it uses a very strong magnet (similar to ones you might have at home) to take ‘brain pictures.’ We have found that most children are very excited about having their brain picture taken and will be given a copy to take home, which they really enjoy sharing with their friends and family. During the MRI scan, your child will be asked to lie as still as possible. In order to help them lie still, we will practice beforehand in a pretend scanner in our lab and use specially designed equipment in the real scanner to hold their head and shoulders comfortably in place.

By comparing children of mothers with and without a history of depression, we may be able to learn about psychological and brain development and hopefully help benefit children with mental health issues one day.


We are not currently enrolling for the Child Brain Study.