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Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD Study)

The Conception of the ABCD Study

For an overview of how the ABCD study got started, see article co-authored by NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow, NIAAA Director Dr. George Koob, NINDS Director Dr. Walter Koroshetz, and other NIH scientists: The conception of the ABCD study: From substance use to a broad NIH collaboration, published in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.


Annual Curated Data Release

Curated data will be released annually through the NIMH Data Archive, beginning in 2018 with an interim release that includes high quality baseline data from the first ~4500 participants, including minimally processed brain image volumes and tabulated structural MRI, diffusion MRI, resting-state fMRI and task fMRI results, as well as all non-imaging assessment data from the physical & mental health, neurocognition, substance use, biospecimens and culture & environment domains. All personally identifiable information is removed from the data to ensure participant confidentiality and anonymity. Data can be accessed via the NDA by researchers who obtain a free NIMH Data Archive account.

Study Enrollment Completed

ABCD Study Enrollment has completed as of 10/21/18 - the total enrollment stands at 11,875.

Enrollment completed as of 10/21/18.  Total 11,874 participants

What Is the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study?

ABCD is a landmark study on brain development and child health supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This project will increase our understanding of environmental, social, genetic, and other biological factors that affect brain and cognitive development and that can enhance or disrupt a young person’s life trajectory.

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How Will the ABCD Study Be Implemented?

Unique in its scope and duration, the ABCD study will:

  • Recruit 11,900 healthy children, ages 9 to 10 across the United States, with the goal of retaining 10,000 into early adulthood.
  • Use advanced brain imaging to observe brain growth with unprecedented precision.
  • Examine how biology and environment interact and relate to developmental outcomes such as physical health, mental health, and life achievements including academic success.

Why Do We Need the ABCD Study?

Adolescence is a period of dramatic brain development in which children are exposed to all sorts of experiences. Yet, our understanding of precisely how these experiences interact with each other and a child’s biology to affect brain development and, ultimately, social, behavioral, health, and other outcomes, is still incomplete. As the only study of its kind, the ABCD study will yield critical insights into the foundational aspects of adolescence that shape a person’s future.

What Will We Learn from the ABCD Study?

The size and scope of the study will allow scientists to:

  • Identify individual developmental trajectories (e.g., brain, cognitive, emotional, academic) and the factors that can affect them.
  • Understand the role of genetic vs. environmental factors on development.
  • Examine the effects of physical activity, screen time, and sleep, as well as sports and other injuries, on brain development and other outcomes.
  • Study the onset and progression of mental disorders.
  • Determine how exposure to substances (e.g., alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, caffeine) and new ways of taking them (e.g., vaping, dabbing) affect developmental outcomes and vice versa.
  • Understand the impact of changing state and local policies and laws (e.g., marijuana, tobacco, alcohol) on youth drug use and related health and development.

Scientific publications authored by ABCD Study investigators, collaborators, and other researchers can be found at https://abcdstudy.org/scientists-publications.html

Who Is Leading the ABCD Study?

The ABCD study is led by the Collaborative Research on Addiction at NIH (CRAN):

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
  • National Cancer Institute (NCI)

In partnership with:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  • National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
  • NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR)
  • NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH)

For additional information on ABCD, please contact:
Dr. Gaya Dowling, Director, ABCD Project at 301-443-4877 or at AdolescentBrain@mail.nih.gov or visit abcdstudy.org

For more information for researchers, visit: http://www.addictionresearch.nih.gov/abcd-study

Download: Flyer on the ABCD Study (PDF, 2.7MB)

This page was last updated December 2018

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    ABCD Study Enrollment Completed

    Graphic showing recruitment goals for study As of 10/21/18 enrollment
    completed with 11,875

    Collaborative Research on Addiction at NIH (CRAN)

    ABCD Study Website