Child Mind Institute's Healthy Brain Network Releases Open Dataset

Press Release | Child Mind Institute | June 14, 2017

Youth mental health study's imaging, diagnostic data from more than 600 individuals and robust analysis tools form 'Open Science' resource for discovery of biomarkers for childhood mental health disorders

The Child Mind Institute today announced the release of the first dataset from the groundbreaking Healthy Brain Network study, and the inauguration of the Healthy Brain Network Biobank. The study and the open access Biobank address the pressing need for a large, comprehensive dataset that researchers will use to leverage new technologies and develop tools for diagnosing and managing mental health and learning disorders.

The Healthy Brain Network Biobank includes an unprecedented wealth of information, including behavioral and cognitive assessments, brain imaging, electroencephalography (EEG), genetics, digital voice and video samples, comprehensive psychiatric and learning assessments, and familial, environmental and lifestyle variables. Taken together, access to such a range of data via the Biobank will make it possible for scholars to address clinically relevant questions.

"We are learning some amazing things from this data," said Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, president of the Child Mind Institute. "But the true power of the Healthy Brain Network's model will be clear when scientists around the globe in every discipline access this data and uncover new connections using discovery science. Then we bring these discoveries to children in need. That is what open science means for us."

Today's data release includes anonymous, de-identified information from 664 individuals ages 5-21 years old and can be freely accessed by scientists around the world at: The open sharing of Healthy Brain Network data is intended to promote open science and speed the pace of discovery, including the identification of biomarkers for childhood mental health disorders.

Preliminary analyses of the dataset, presented by Child Mind Institute researchers at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry's 2016 annual meeting, found that children with positive, supportive parents exhibited strong academic performance, regardless of socioeconomic status. Study data also showed that children with higher levels of depressive symptoms had significantly higher percent body fat and significantly lower levels of physical activity than children without depressive symptoms.

Analysis of the Healthy Brain Network data also highlights the power of a simple screening tool for language ability to identify children at risk for learning, language and mental health disorders. The behavioral data in the Healthy Brain Network dataset holds the promise of improving the accuracy and reliability of existing diagnostic tests, and clarifying the link between mental health and physical health to improve treatment and prevention.

"The rich, detailed and varied information we have collected is unprecedented in the field," said Michael P. Milham, MD, PhD, Phyllis Green and Randolph C?wen Scholar and director of the Healthy Brain Network and the Center for the Developing Brain at the Child Mind Institute. "It gives researchers the ability to look at the connection between mental health and learning disorders, brain structure and function, physical health, school performance and family life to develop new approaches to treating these disorders."

The Healthy Brain Network uses a community-referred recruitment model, with advertisements seeking the participation of families who may have concerns about mental health symptoms in their children. Currently, 1,130 participants are enrolled. The ultimate goal of this community-centered program is to collect data from and provide consultations to 10,000 children and adolescents, improving access to mental health resources in New York City and beyond.

Child Mind Institute data-sharing efforts have already been pivotal in advancing our understanding of the neural bases of mental health disorders, including ADHD and autism, and facilitating the development of imaging-based tools focused on their detection. The Child Mind Institute-sponsored International Neuroimaging Data-sharing Initiative (INDI) has worked to establish a culture of sharing through its support of open access data repositories like the ADHD-200, Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange, and Nathan Kline Institute Rockland Sample. The data from these efforts has been accessed by more than 3,000 researchers worldwide and has been used in 952 publications.

"As it continues to grow," Dr. Milham concluded, "the Healthy Brain Network dataset will be a Rosetta Stone for the study of brain development and mental health disorders."

A primary goal of the Healthy Brain Network is the generation of a rich, detailed sample that faithfully represents the range of impairment commonly encountered in clinical practice. To encourage enrollment of diverse participants the study provides concrete benefits, making a positive impact on the community. Participants are offered comprehensive diagnostic consultation reports (including clinical impressions and treatment recommendations), as well as feedback sessions and referral information. A modest monetary compensation ($150) is provided as well.

"The Healthy Brain Network is providing researchers with incredibly valuable data that will enable and advance important science focused on improving our understanding of a variety of mental health and developmental disorders," says Dr. Adam Gazzaley, professor of Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, who is not involved in the study. "By making this information available to scientists worldwide, the Child Mind Institute is playing a pivotal role in accelerating discoveries that will improve lives."


About the Child Mind Institute

The Child Mind Institute is an independent, national nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders. Our teams work every day to deliver the highest standards of care, advance the science of the developing brain, and empower parents, professionals and policymakers to support children when and where they need it most. Together with our supporters, we're helping children reach their full potential in school and in life. We share all of our resources freely and do not accept any funding from the pharmaceutical industry. Learn more at

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