NIH funds $8 Million Grant for EBRL Research

The first few years of an infant’s life are vastly important for development. Long before enrolling in school, elements of their environment can affect the trajectories of children’s outcomes for the rest of their lives. In an effort to studies these environmental factors, the National Institutes of Health have awarded Vanderbilt a grant as part of a multi-institutional overview of variables influencing infant and child brain development, including substance exposure.

Substance use in pregnant women has increased over the past decade, highlighting the importance of efforts to understand how environmental and other exposures during pregnancy affect brain development and child outcomes. The PRELUDE consortium for the HEALthy Brain and Child Development study will recruit 2720 pregnant women in the 2nd and 3rd trimester and follow their children to age 10, using neuroimaging, behavioral assessments, EEG, biosample collection, and assessments of parent-child interaction and the home environment. This research will lead to greater understanding of factors affecting early childhood brain development, allowing targeted interventions and improved outcomes for mother-child dyads.

If you’d like to learn more about the study, you can learn more about it here or here.

BrainStorm Neuroscience Pitch Competition, EBRL Asks: What Creates Resiliency in Children in Poverty? (Oct.15)

(The following has been a reduced version of an article first posted here.)

Join members of the Education Brain and Research Laboratory and the Mind Science Foundation for a night of science driven by brilliant young researchers! Three teams will pitch their brain research projects as they compete for their shot at a $60,000 pot. Illusionist Mark Mitton will be watching over the proceedings as well as lending his own particular magic to the event as audience members cast their votes and decide who takes home the top prize of $30,000!

The second annual BrainStorm Neuroscience Pitch Competition is Oct. 15 at the Pearl Stable and begins with a member reception at 5:30 p.m. before the 6:30 p.m. program. This event is open to the public with purchase of a ticket and is free for Mind Science Foundation members.

The purpose of the Foundation’s research funding program is to improve health and well-being in humankind through scientific advances in the study of consciousness. This year, finalists’ work can: provide a deeper understanding of the brain’s role in providing resilience in children raised in poverty, use virtual reality as a treatment for anxiety disorders, and “hack” brain systems using mindfulness meditation to strengthen personal traits of self-control and autonomy.

What is the contribution of EBRL you might ask? Well, the research team of Laurie Cutting, Stephanie Del Tufo, and Tin Nguyen from EBRL seek to find an answer to the question: What creates resiliency in children raised in poverty?

Children from poverty have less access to health care and nutrition, as well as limited academic support. These experiences often result in poor classroom performance, and in the most extreme cases, academic failure. Yet despite living in poverty, some children manage to thrive and excel in school. These children are thought to have resilience, and for the purposes of this study, by demonstrating positive academic outcomes despite living in poverty. Graduate student Tin Nguyen’s pitch seeks to provide a deeper understanding of the relationships between resilience, brain structure, and enriching home reading environments in children subject to adversity or poverty. Understanding what makes children resilient can be a first step towards mitigating the negative impacts of childhood poverty.