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Child Affect Regulation Study (CARS)

The goal of this research is to use functional magnetic resonance imaing (fMRI) to study the neural basis of attentional dyscontrol and emotion dysregulation in a sample of young children (ages 5-12) who are displaying early onset pervasive anger and irritability. These symptoms represent a significant mental health concern that has required a new diagnostic category in the DSM-V revision in order to secure the research and clinical services that these children require. The proposed study will be the first to examine brain mechanisms for attentional dyscontrol and emotion dysregulation, which signify key behavioral deficits, in these young school-age children upon first clinic presentation. Obtaining these measures of functional abnormalities in attentional control and emotion regulatory neural systems in young children presenting with pervasive anger and irritability relative to age-matched healthy counterparts will first help us to identify which children show greater levels of dysfunction within these neural systems. It is also a first step toward the longer term goal of examining the extent to which these neural system abnormalities may represent biological markers that can help distinguish relevant developmental trajectories of psychopathology, so that different treatments can be applied at this early stage of symptomatology.