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Healthy Brain Network

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One of the biggest challenges in identifying and treating psychiatric or learning disorders in children and adolescents is that doctors and clinicians must rely on children to report their thoughts and feelings. Children’s communication skills are still developing, and it can be difficult for a clinician 
to get a clear idea of symptoms and severity. This is particularly problematic because 75% of all psychiatric disorders begin by age 24, and they affect 1 in 5 American children. The field of child psychiatry would benefit tremendously from biological diagnostic tests, similar to ones used in other branches of medicine.

Consistent with the Child Mind Institute’s mission, the Healthy Brain Network (HBN) seeks to advance the science of child and adolescent brain development while empowering families with the scientifically sound information they need. The HBN initiative is a community-based research program that combines mobile research vehicles and stationary evaluation centers to reach and evaluate a large population. All participants and their families will receive an extensive feedback session with a licensed clinician following their evaluation. At this session, appropriate treatment recommendations and referrals for follow up care will also be given.

The data provided by participants will form an online database that can be used by the scientific community to identify biological markers of psychiatric illness. Such markers will improve the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders from an objective biological perspective. To this end, the database will bring together brain imaging, genetics, and biological samples with standardized psychiatric, behavioral, cognitive, and lifestyle information.

HBN will include healthy children (ages 5 to 21) in addition to those with a broad range of disorders, in order to identify subtle differences within healthy populations and between healthy and clinical populations. This work will form the foundation for future efforts and will allow for possible long-term follow up to help predict risk and outcomes.

The Child Mind Institute is excited to announce the upcoming launch of the Healthy Brain Network on Staten Island in the spring of 2015. The Healthy Brain Network Coordination Center will serve as the first satellite location of the Child Mind Institute and the hub of all Healthy Brain Network activity over the lifespan of the project. 

In the meantime, please email us at if you have any questions about the initiative.

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