The Lifespan Brain Institute (LiBI) is dedicated to studying how the brain and behavior change over time and in response to different illnesses. We study children and young adults with many different kinds of diagnoses, including people without any diagnosis at all. This collaboration between the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania bridges the gap between pediatric and adult research, making it possible for researchers to begin studying participants at a young age and to continue to follow them into adulthood. With this lifespan approach, researchers are able to study what early risk factors might contribute to the development of mental disorders, what factors might protect children from developing mental disorders or help them cope more effectively, and how illness affects the brain and behavior over time. By focusing our research in these areas, the Lifespan Brain Institute hopes to help improve treatment options and outcomes for both patients and their families.

We work closely with the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at CHOP ( http://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/child-and-adolescent-psychiatry-and-behavioral-sciences ) to conduct our research with children, young adults, and their families, and work very closely with the Brain Behavior Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine Neuropsychiatry Section ( http://www.med.upenn.edu/bbl/ ) to conduct our research with adults.



The research we conduct at the Lifespan Brain Institute aims to better understand:

  • How the brain functions and develops, in both healthy people and those with brain disorders
  • How different illnesses affect the brain
  • Early identification and treatment of mental illnesses
  • Risk and protective factors for developing mental illnesses


About Our Studies

No matter which study you participate in, we appreciate your help tremendously! Our research wouldn't be possible without people like you, and we wouldn't be able to help doctors learn new and better ways to help their patients, so THANK YOU!

The Lifespan Brain Institute is involved in many different kinds of research, and we will be conducting more and more studies as time goes on. Even though each study will be different, they will all have the following things in common:

  • We will always compensate you for your time and effort!
  • Any information we collect is strictly confidential.
  • At the beginning of each study visit, we will ask you to sign a consent form. The consent form describes the study procedures in detail, and you sign it to say you understand the study procedures and agree to participate in the research. It is not a legally binding document, so you can change your mind and take back your consent at any time. Signing the consent never means you have to do anything you don't want to do.
  • Your participation is completely voluntary. You always have complete control over what you do, or decide you don't want to do.
  • Any information we collect is for research use only.
  • Whether you decide to participate in a research study or not, it will never affect the medical care you're receiving at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia



We use a variety of methods to study the brain and how it affects behavior.

  • Interviews
    • We interview participants and their families about a variety of factors that could affect mood and behavior, like different experiences and feelings they've had throughout their lives. This helps us better understand how certain illnesses and life events impact our participants and their families, and may help us improve treatment options for patients in the future.
    • To better understand how family history might affect the brain and development, we ask participants and their families about the medical and medication history, if any, of the participant and we also ask about any medical diagnoses the rest of the family may have. This helps us better understand how illnesses may be passed down through the family, and it helps us understand how any illness might have affected brain development.
  • Computerized Neurocognitive Battery
    • We often have our participants complete a computerized form of testing that measures things like memory, attention, reaction speed, and problem solving. This computerized battery (or group of tests) was created by Dr. Ruben Gur and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania and is used instead of traditional pencil-and-paper tests. It has been translated to over 15 languages, is used all over the world, and has versions for both adults and children. This test can even be taken inside of an MRI machine, so researchers can take pictures of how your brain reacts while you're completing each test. This helps us see which parts of the brain are responsible for different types of tasks, and can help give researchers a glimpse into how typical brains react different than brains with different illnesses
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (or MRI)
    • Sometimes we ask our participants to let us take a picture of their brain with an MRI machine. MRI machines take pictures of the inside of your body, except they're different than X-ray machines and CAT scan machines because they don't use any radiation. Instead, they use a magnetic field and radio waves to take pictures. All you have to do is lay inside the machine, which looks like a big donut, and hold as still as you can so the pictures aren't blurry. Most of the time you can even watch a movie or listen to music while you're inside. You won't feel anything and nothing touches your body while the pictures are being taken, you'll just hear banging and knocking noises while the machine works. These brain pictures give researchers a ton of information about how brains grow and develop, how different conditions might affect how the brain looks, and we can even watch the brain activity that happens as you think or performs certain tasks. You can watch a video of what an MRI is like at CHOP by going to http://www.chop.edu/video/getting-mri-cartoon-kids