University of Maryland researchers including Associate Professor Tracy Riggins of the Department of Psychology will help lead a landmark national study to analyze the influence of prenatal substance use and other environmental impacts on brain development and behavior in infants and children and provide new insights on healthy brain development overall.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), in collaboration with several other NIH institutes, selected the University of Maryland as one of 25 institutions across the country to implement the HEALthy Brain and Child Development (HBCD) study. This large, multi-year project will recruit a diverse cohort of pregnant people and follow them and their children into early childhood. Researchers will examine typical developmental trajectories and how prenatal and postnatal exposure to alcohol, drugs and other adversities like poverty and trauma impact the structure and function of the brain, as well as the development of social, emotional and cognitive processes.
Researchers will utilize brain imaging methods—specifically, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) conducted at the Maryland Neuroimaging Center and electroencephalograms (EEG) collected at the UMD Child Development Lab—to track brain development over time and assess which factors alter developmental patterns.
The UMD research team will receive more than $1 million per year over the first five years of the project. Distinguished University Professor of Human Development Nathan Fox, one of UMD’s principal investigators for the study, will lead the collection of EEG data for the national consortium.
Article by Sara Gavin excerpted courtesy of Maryland Today. Photo by iStock.