All victims of childhood trauma and abuse will not only recover, they will thrive.

Using neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry, we are exploring brain-body mechanisms of vulnerability and resilience to childhood trauma.  We are studying how trauma and abuse affect brain development in youth, as well as social and biological functioning in families, to lead youth to resilience or vulnerability.  With new information learned, we will test whether current and novel treatments can restore brain resilience and mental health in youth victims.
Every year, millions of youth are exposed to severe adversity and psychological trauma.  These experiences put youth at high risk for mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicide.  How do traumatic experiences alter brain development to cause mental illness?  What happens in the brain to help kids be resilient?  Founded by Dr. Ryan Herringa, a pediatric psychiatrist and neuroscientist, the BRAVE Research Center uses neuroscience to understand the effects of early-life trauma on brain development.  Our goal is to translate this knowledge into brain-based treatments for youth victims of trauma and their families.  Every child deserves the chance to live up to their fullest potential.  For youth victims of trauma, the stakes are even greater.  Let’s help them to Be BRAVE.

Our center uses a variety of approaches to study the effects of adversity and trauma on brain development and family function. Grounded in neuroscience, we use brain imaging (MRI), physiology, genetics, microbiome, and other techniques to understand brain-body function in typically developing youth, trauma-exposed youth, and youth with mental illness such as PTSD. By establishing the neural circuits and biology involved in vulnerability and resilience to trauma, we aim to use this knowledge to improve our diagnosis of mental illness, and develop new treatments that will help to foster resilient brain development and promote well-being in childhood and beyond.

Invitation to Participate in a Research Study on
Cognitive Emotional Development in Adolescents (CEDA)
Funded by the National Institutes of Health

If you have a son or daughter between the ages of 10-16, he or she may qualify for a research study at the UW Department of Psychiatry. This study will examine brain function and other biological changes in healthy youth, as well as youth with anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Some participants may also have a history of trauma. We are looking for 10-16 year olds and their parent/guardian to participate in this research. Study activities include a clinical interview, MRI brain scan, questionnaires, and biological samples. This study does not involve any radiation, medication, or needles. Youth who have metal in their bodies, including braces, are not eligible to participate.

Your child will receive up to $1,030 for participation in all research activities over three years.

Click to complete an online screening form. If you complete the full web screen, you will have the option to receive a $10 e-gift card.


Curious about our study documents?

Download the CEDA Flyer
Download the CEDA Consent and Authorization Form for Caregivers and Youth Participants
Download the CEDA Assent Form for Youth Participants Ages 10-14

Why are we doing this study?
The ability to identify and control our emotions is such an important skill in life. Adolescence is a time when the brain circuits regulating our emotions begin to strengthen. However, adolescence is also a time when a number of mental illnesses can arise in youth, including anxiety disorders, depression, and PTSD. We also know that having a history of significant adversity in one’s life can increase risk for developing one of these mental illnesses. But, we don’t know enough about how brain development is different in kids who have anxiety and depression, nor how childhood adversity might affect adolescent brain development. If we can better understand brain development in this critical phase of life, then hopefully we can develop better preventions and treatments down the road to help kids at risk for mental illness. We are looking for kids to help us out and participate in this three-year study to answer these questions. Specifically, we need healthy kids with no history of mental illness, as well as kids with anxiety, depression, or PTSD between the ages of 10-16. Please note that your child is not eligible if he/she is taking a medication for mental health problems, or if he/she has braces. If you would like to learn more, please click the banner below, or contact us by email or phone with specific questions. Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!

The BRAVE Research Team
For more information, please call (608) 265-3610 or email braveyouthlab@psychiatry.wisc.edu