Life Skills Study

Life Skills Study Contact Person:

Uma Rao

Funding Agency:

NIH

Project Summary:

Adolescents face many challenges as they begin to gain autonomy from parents and prepare for adult roles in society and, in particular, African-American (AA) youth experience unique challenges. For example, even though youth from all racial/ethnic backgrounds experiment with alcohol/drugs, AA youth are more likely to face legal consequences due to social inequalities. Our team has developed a family intervention that specifically helps AA youth to develop life skills focusing on future orientation and in overcoming “road blocks” in the service of these long-term positive goals. This is a 6-week, parent-child program shown to deter/delay risky behaviors and achieve long-term positive outcomes in randomized controlled studies.

In the current research study, we are trying to identify brain networks associated with youth protective factors resulting in positive response to the intervention. The adolescent brain is highly plastic and undergoes significant remodeling, and a better understanding of the brain network changes will help us to fine-tune the intervention program or develop alternative strategies for those who don’t show significant benefit. We are recruiting 11-14-year-old African-Americans (both boys and girls) and performing MRI scans (no radiation involved) before and after the above-described family intervention.