Brain Development Study

Brain Development Study Contact Person:

Uma Rao

Other PIs/Investigators/PhD students:

Marie L. Gillespie
Akul Sharma
Theo G.M. van Erp

Children's Hospital Orange County (CHOC) Funding Agency:


Project Summary:

Research has indicated that depressive illness is the second leading cause of disability worldwide, and it frequently begins in adolescence and persists into adult life. Childhood trauma has long-term consequences and increases the risk for depression. Both clinical experience and research have indicated that depression resulting from childhood trauma is more severe and shows poorer responses to treatments. There is some evidence from our lab and others that the brain networks may be different in this type of depression compared to other causes. A better understanding of these differences can be helpful in developing more effective prevention and treatment programs for individuals with childhood trauma (both medical and non-medical therapies).

In the current research study, we are recruiting 13-17 year-olds (with and without depression, with and without childhood trauma). We will perform MRI scans (no radiation is involved) to carefully study the brain networks in these two forms of depression and compare them with normal adolescent brain developmental changes. Also, we would like to study brain networks in youth who experienced childhood trauma but did not develop depression to better understand the protective mechanisms.