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 Center for Neurobehavioral Research

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Center for Neurobehavioral Research

​Neurobehavioral Research

You can see on the right hand side is a picture of a child with ADHD compared to a child developing normally on the left hand side.

For a long time here at Boys Town we focus a lot on behavioral observations and trying to understand children's behavior and treat it,  and we're going to be adding a biological component to this research.

We've relied really heavily on medications to treat children's mental illnesses, things like, again,  depression and anxiety.

So what we're going to be looking at is whether these medications really are effective, biologically speaking, and determining whether they're appropriate for use with children.

We have different kinds of imaging that's available to us. We have structural imaging, which gives you a picture of the brain at a point in time.

What functional imaging does, it actually shows you how the brain is functioning in time. So you can see which parts of the brain are actually active in response to something in the environment and that tells us again whether the brain is functioning in a healthy way or whether there's something pathological about it.

It doesn't involve any radioactivity. It's a magnet and that actually helps us to see where blood is flowing in the brain so no risk associated with it. We've been using this kind of technology for decades now with children in a safe, effective way.

The other line of research is going to be looking at more novel interventions for kids.

"You've done it!"​

Here's an example of a computer game that's being used to treat adolescent depression and this was developed by some people in New Zealand and it's called Sparx. What we're doing here on campus is we're actually taking children who come to us with depression, letting them play this computer game and then seeing whether it really helps to normalize their depression.

There are things in the environment that can help children develop normally and can promote resilience, and I think this research is really going to provide the biological support for that, which i think will really change treatment patterns in the future.

Boys Town has been dedicated to treating children for almost a century and I think to add this piece biology to the Boys Town program is exciting and I think it will just give us better choices for children in the future.​

​​The Center for Neurobehavioral Research combines the latest brain imaging technology with behavioral measures that are already well established as part of the Boys Town program. The Center for Neurobehavioral Research actively partners with researchers both locally and nationally to develop the best practices to treat behavioral and mental health problems in children.

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