A new nationwide study will follow thousands of children for 10 years, starting in elementary school, in an attempt to answer questions about the risks and protective factors for adolescent substance use on the developing brain. The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study will track exposure to substances (including nicotine, alcohol and marijuana), academic achievement, cognitive skills, mental health, brain structure and function, and many other variables.
By starting with youth before adolescence, the scientists will be able to assess the effects of the age of different experiences (trauma, poor nutrition, substance use) on brain development.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, will begin with 11,500 children ages 9 and 10, before they start substance use, at 19 sites around the country. Recruitment for the trial is scheduled to launch in September.