Prof Rhoshel Lenroot with young study participant next to MRI

Empathy MRI study

RESEARCH STUDY

EMPATHY: AN MRI STUDY OF EMOTION PROCESSING IN BOYS WITH AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR

Why do some young people have a hard time acting as if they care about the feelings of other people, such as getting into fights, breaking rules, or doing things that can hurt others?

Learning to understand how other people feel is an essential part of growing up. For some kids this comes easily, but for others it doesn’t, and can lead to these types of problems.

We are working to understand what parts of the brain help us to recognise and react to other people’s emotions. We are studying this both in healthy boys and in boys who have conduct problems such as frequent arguments, breaking rules, or being aggressive. We are concentrating on boys right now because although both boys and girls can have these kinds of problems, they are more common in boys.

Who can participate? Boys aged 8 through 16 years, either with a history of conduct problems or who have no history of mental health problems.

What happens if your child participates? The study involves having a brain scan (known as a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)) exam) while looking at pictures of people who are showing different emotions. There are also some questionnaires and computer tests. A parent or carer will also be interviewed to get information about medical and mental health history. A link to a website and a video about having an MRI at NeuRA are below.

Participants get a picture of their brain to take home with them, and travel costs and parking are reimbursed.

Why participate? To help us understand how some young people have trouble recognising certain emotions. You will be contributing to research, which may someday help young people who have difficulty processing emotions.

How do I learn more? To participate or for further information contact Dr Jason Bruggemann on (02) 9399 1881 or via email:j.bruggemann@neura.edu.au.

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Children… honest and insightful. Their innocence warms the heart. But what words do you use to explain to a child that daddy has an incurable brain disease? What words tell them that in time he may not be able to play football in the park, let alone feed himself? What words help them understand that in the later stages, dementia may also strike? Aged just 36, this was the reality that faced Steve Hartley. Parkinson's disease didn't care he was a fit, healthy, a young dad and devoted husband. It also didn't seem to care his family had no history of it. The key to defeating Parkinson's disease is early intervention, and thanks to a global research team, led by NeuRA, we're pleased to announce that early intervention may be possible. Your support, alongside national and international foundations Shake it Up Australia and the Michael J Fox Foundation, researchers have discovered that a special protein, found in people with a family history of the disease increases prior to Parkinson’s symptoms developing. This is an incredible step forward, because it means that drug therapies, aimed at blocking the increase in the protein, can be administered much earlier – even before symptoms strike. The next step is to understand when to give the drug therapies and which people will most benefit from it. But we need your help. A gift today will support vital research and in time help medical professionals around the world treat Parkinson’s disease sooner, with much better health outcomes. Thank you, in advance, for your support.  
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