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U-Change: Understanding and Characterising Health Adolescent-to-Adult Neurodevelopmental Growth Effects

The period of adolescence and early youth is a time of high risk for the incidence of major psychiatric and drug dependence disorders that involve neural systems. However, remarkably little is known about normal processes of human brain development in this age range.

This lack of understanding of the normative processes of youthful brain maturation severely limits our capacity to develop neurobiological theories for emergence of psychiatric disorders as an expression of abnormal brain development.

In turn, this limits our capacity to identify people who might be at high risk of developing a disorder, or to develop disease-modifying approaches to treatment.

The investigators have received a Strategic Award from the Wellcome Trust to develop NSPN, which brings together relevant research groups in Cambridge and London to address the key strategic question of how psychiatric disorders (depression, psychosis, conduct disorder, and personality disorder) can be understood to arise from developmentally abnormal maturation of brain systems important for reward processing, social cognition and other cognitive processes.

U-Change is the normative foundation that will support and inform future NSPN studies focused on specific patient groups.

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