Working… Menu
Help guide our efforts to modernize
Send us your comments by March 14, 2020.

The Psychobiology of Childhood Temperament

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Know the risks and potential benefits of clinical studies and talk to your health care provider before participating. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT00060775
Recruitment Status : Recruiting
First Posted : May 13, 2003
Last Update Posted : January 6, 2020
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) ( National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) )

Tracking Information
First Submitted Date May 12, 2003
First Posted Date May 13, 2003
Last Update Posted Date January 6, 2020
Study Start Date May 12, 2003
Primary Completion Date Not Provided
Current Primary Outcome Measures Not Provided
Original Primary Outcome Measures Not Provided
Change History Complete list of historical versions of study NCT00060775 on Archive Site
Current Secondary Outcome Measures Not Provided
Original Secondary Outcome Measures Not Provided
Current Other Pre-specified Outcome Measures Not Provided
Original Other Pre-specified Outcome Measures Not Provided
Descriptive Information
Brief Title The Psychobiology of Childhood Temperament
Official Title The Psychobiology of Temperament: An fMRI Study
Brief Summary

The purpose of this study is to use brain imaging technology to examine brain changes that occur in children when they are exposed to various kinds of emotional tasks and to determine if these changes are related to the child's temperament.

Studies suggest that the risk for developing mood and anxiety disorders in preschool children may be linked to differences in temperament. The relationship between temperament and risk or resilience may reflect the influences of brain activity on behavior at different stages of childhood development. Behavioral inhibition and mood or anxiety disorders have been linked to disturbances in the circuitry of several areas in the brain. However, the involvement of this circuitry in temperament remains unclear. This study will use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the function of different parts of the brain in children who have previously undergone temperament studies and have had their temperaments classified.

Two sets of studies will be performed in the current protocol. A small set of pilot studies will be performed in infants, by staff at the University of Maryland. In terms of the studies among infants, these subjects will initially be contacted by staff at Maryland and then will be seen at the NIH for up to three visits lasting between 4- to 5- hours during the first year of life. These subjects also will undergo visits at the University of Maryland throughout the first year of life.

This study will comprise up to four clinic visits. At Visit 1, children and their parents will meet with study staff individually and together for psychiatric interviews. Children will undergo a physical examination, medical history, a urine drug test, and practice in an fMRI simulator. Saliva samples will be collected from the children and tests will be given to assess stage of puberty, temperament, intelligence, feelings, experiences, and behavior. Other visits include fMRI scans of the brain and other tasks.


Detailed Description

Objectives: The goal of this proposal is to study temperament and risk-taking as vulnerability factors for anxiety. Studies have documented that behaviorally inhibited (BI) children are at risk for anxiety disorders. This vulnerability may be associated with neural circuits underlying behavioral tendencies, such as components of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), striatum, and amygdala. Regarding risk-taking behavior, certain high risk-taking adolescents also carry enhanced vulnerability to anxiety. We use fMRI to examine local activity in PFC, cingulate, amygdala, and striatum, and functional connectivity with resting state methodology in two cohorts, one probing temperament and the other one risk-taking.

Study Population: A total of 1010 individuals/ infants (0-29 yo) will be studied. This sample comprises 2 sets of study groups. First, the BI group includes individuals with (1) high motor arousal/high negative affect in early infancy to novelty and sustained BI (BI), (2) high motor arousal/high positive affect to novelty and sustained temperamental exuberance (exuberant), (3) average levels of both reactivity/affect from infancy to childhood (controls). Second, the risk-taking group includes 4 subgroups representing the interaction of two levels of anxiety (low, high) and two levels of risk-taking (low, high). Finally, a group of healthy individuals will be recruited as controls.

Participants will be studied through their 20 s because both the risk for and expressions of psychopathology continue to change throughout early adulthood.

Design: Assessments will include psychiatric, behavioral, and neuropsychological batteries. The protocol uses fMRI paradigms targeting different emotional, social, cognitive, motivational, and learning processes during activation studies, as well as the intrinsic function of the brain measured during a resting state.

Outcome Measures and Predictions: The main outcome measures are fMRI BOLD signal changes, physiological, neuropsychological and behavioral variables. The proposed fMRI studies will test 2 sets of hypotheses. The first refers to the BI cohort. BI subjects will exhibit (1) enhanced amygdala activation to mild threats (e.g., angry facial), (2) PFC perturbations in associative learning, (3) abnormal fronto-amygdala connectivity, (4) heightened striatal and inferior PFC activation to reward stimuli, (5) unique neural patterns of attention bias and social challenges, (6) differential changes with age as a function of BI status (7) infants of differing temperaments will exhibit structural and functional differences in brain regions associated with salience and ventral attention networks. The second set of hypotheses pertains to the risk-taking cohort. (1) anxious adolescents will activate striatal regions in response to reward more strongly than non-anxious adolescents; (2) risk-takers will also activate striatal regions in response to reward more strongly than non-risk takers; (3) we expect an interaction between risk-taking and anxiety-related factors, such as a potentiation of striatal activation in anxious risk-takers, and a blunting of striatal activation in non-anxious risk-takers. These effects will be uniquely altered by social stress. Finally, repeat studies will be conducted with the BI cohort to examine stability/developmental changes with time.

Study Type Observational
Study Design Not Provided
Target Follow-Up Duration Not Provided
Biospecimen Not Provided
Sampling Method Not Provided
Study Population Not Provided
  • Mood Disorders
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Adolescents
Intervention Not Provided
Study Groups/Cohorts Not Provided
Publications *

*   Includes publications given by the data provider as well as publications identified by Identifier (NCT Number) in Medline.
Recruitment Information
Recruitment Status Recruiting
Estimated Enrollment
 (submitted: December 21, 2016)
Original Enrollment
 (submitted: June 23, 2005)
Study Completion Date Not Provided
Primary Completion Date Not Provided
Eligibility Criteria
  • Consent: Can give consent/assent.
  • IQ: All subjects will have IQ greater than 70. (exception: infants will not need to meet this criteria)
  • Psychopathology: all subjects will be free of lifetime history of psychosis and pervasive developmental disorder
  • Specific to infant cohort: between the ages of 4 and 14 months of age and is free of any known developmental disability or medical condition


  • Any chronic or acute medical condition severe enough to interfere with task performance or completion of questionnaires; Any medical condition that increases risk for MRI (e.g. pacemaker, metallic foreign body in eye, dental braces)
  • Any medical condition that increases risk for MRI (e.g. pacemaker, metallic foreign body in eye, dental braces).
  • Any current axis I psychiatric disorder necessitating acute treatment.
  • Claustrophobia
  • Pregnancy
  • Specific to infant cohort:

    1. Was born prematurely, before 36 weeks gestation
    2. Had a birth weight significantly below normal for gestational age
    3. Has any known developmental disability or medical condition
    4. Has any metallic objects in their body (e.g., Has implanted electrical devices, brain stimulators, some types of dental implants, aneurysm clips (metal clips on the wall of a large artery), metallic prostheses (including metal pins and rods, heart valves, and cochlear implants), implanted delivery pump,
    5. Comes from a home where the primary language spoken is not English
  • NIMH employees and staff and their immediate family members will be excluded from the study per NIMH policy.
Sexes Eligible for Study: All
Ages up to 29 Years   (Child, Adult)
Accepts Healthy Volunteers Yes
Contact: Adina Heckelman (240) 723-0925
Contact: Daniel S Pine, M.D. (301) 594-1318
Listed Location Countries United States
Removed Location Countries  
Administrative Information
NCT Number NCT00060775
Other Study ID Numbers 030186
Has Data Monitoring Committee Not Provided
U.S. FDA-regulated Product Not Provided
IPD Sharing Statement Not Provided
Responsible Party National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) ( National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) )
Study Sponsor National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Collaborators Not Provided
Principal Investigator: Daniel S Pine, M.D. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
PRS Account National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)
Verification Date June 5, 2019