Nathan Fox and Brenda Jones Harden to Help Lead Nationwide Study of Early Childhood Brain Development
Dr. Nathan Fox and Brenda Jones Harden will collaborate with the National Institute of Drug Abuse to carry out the HEALthy Brain and Child Development study, a research program studying brain development in the early stages of childhood.
The University of Maryland was selected among 25 other institutions to take part in the HEALthy Brain and Child Development study. The extensive project will involve a diverse division of pregnant individuals and follow them and their children into early childhood.
The study will analyze the influences of pre-birth substances and other environmental influences on brain development and behavior in infants and children. It will mainly cover exposure to substances such as drugs and alcohol and adversities such as trauma before and after birth. The study is expected to provide new insights on overall healthy brain development.
Fox is one of UMD'S predominant researchers for the study and is tasked with collecting EEG data, a method to record an electrogram of the electrical activity on the scalp that represents the macroscopic activity underneath the brain surface layer. He expresses the importance for everyone involved in the study to use equivalent data measurement strategies.
“We have never seen a study of this magnitude combine data from so many mothers and infants all across the country, so it’s important we’re all using the same methods and metrics,” said Fox.
Harden is another main investigator for UMD and will be in charge of the recruitment and retention of the participants and families. She will implement recruitment through hospitals in the University of Maryland system as well as other clinics and community-based organizations.
A collection of Harden's participants will be women known to be using substances during pregnancy from various backgrounds and situations. The participants collected will be from locations and communities with contrasting levels of substance use and adversities.
Fox is a professor in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology. He received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Williams College, and his Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard University,
Harden is currently the President of the ZERO TO THREE Board of Directors and has taught as a professor in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology. She has a Ph.D. in developmental and clinical psychology from Yale University and a Master's in social work from New York University.