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Kids interact with science at UT Health using their brains - literally!

A UT Health ADHD Behavior and Brain Research Study for kids brings clarity to emotional and mental health.

SAN ANTONIO — For many kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, keeping calm when upset can be a challenge. Researchers at UT Health San Antonio are now inviting kids to study their own brains and behaviors to bring light to their emotional health. Dr. Joseph Blader is a psychologist for UT Health and he explained, "At this point, what we’re trying to do is help put the child, as much as possible, in control of their own behavior, and that’s in many ways what ADHD causes problems for.”

Dr. Blader studies the effects of medications on the brain and behavioral patterns. He works with families to provide a consistent routine of treatments and counseling which he said has shown promise so far.

“One of the things that we’re learning is that if you do the first line treatment well, they don’t need all the other medications, which is much safer for children,” he said.

For ten-year-old Mia Larios, this study is much more than a routine summer activity. She was the first kid to participate in this study and her experience not only revealed her past mental activity but confirmed her thoughts for her future career.

“I want to be a neurologist,” she said. Since her first brain scan, she’s been hooked. “I was so excited. I was like, ‘It’s my brain!’”

Larios’ mother, Rose, works for UT Health and demonstrated the process participants go through during the scan. She played a variety of sounds in a simulation frequently asking Larios about her comfort level, which rarely fluctuated. At the end of the study, Larios was given tickets for special prizes.

She told KENS 5 she hopes to contribute to the work of UT Health with her research when she becomes a neurologist.

Children eligible for the study must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be 7 to 14 years of age
  • Must have an ADHD diagnosis and frequent loss of control that includes aggressive behaviors such as hurting  or threatening others or oneself, damaging things, or rageful yelling
  • If child is currently taking medication but still engaging in aggressive behavior  
  • If child has no history of head trauma, seizures, or other neurological disorders
  • If child has no implanted metal

For more information on this study, please contact Kristina Fields at (210)567-4875.

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