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Renewal of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study


Shelli Avenevoli, Ph.D.
National Institute of Mental Health


The ABCD study ( is the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States. It is structured as a cooperative agreement involving multiple NIH Institutes, 21 recruitment sites, a coordinating center, and a data analysis and imaging center. The consortium has been recruiting approximately 11,900 children ages 9-10, with plans to follow them through adolescence into early adulthood. A common protocol is used at all sites, involving biological, social, behavioral and neuroimaging measures. The primary goal is to create a diverse and well characterized cohort to understand how experiences in childhood interact with each other and a child’s changing biology to affect brain development and social, behavioral, mental and physical health outcomes. All data (with PII removed) will be shared widely with the research community through the NIMH Data Archive.


This initiative was designed to address the following overarching research objectives, which are inherently interdependent and mutually informative:

  • Describe individual developmental trajectories (e.g., brain, cognitive, emotional, academic), and the factors that can affect them.
  • Develop national standards of healthy brain development.
  • Investigate the roles and interaction of genes and the environment on development.
  • Study how physical activity, sleep, screen time, sports injuries, and other experiences affect brain development.
  • Examine the factors that influence the onset, course, and severity of mental illnesses.
  • Understand the relationship between mental health and substance use.
  • Study how use of different substances (caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, marijuana) affects developmental outcomes, and vice versa.

This concept proposes to renew the ABCD Consortium so that the cohort of children in this nationwide sample can be followed into young adulthood. NIMH is a partner with Collaborative Research on Addiction at NIH (NIDA, NIAAA, NCI) and the following NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs), NICHD, NIMHD, NINDS, NHLBI, ORWH, OBSSR, and NCI on this initiative.