UC Davis Health Clinical Studies

The BRAIN Study

Studying different patterns of brain development in children

Autism is a very complex disorder, and it is likely that various subtypes exist. For over 10 years, investigators at the MIND Institute have been trying to define different subtypes or “phenotypes” of autism in order to develop the best treatments for each type. As part of this effort, we have been examining the brains of children with autism and age matched typically developing kids to see if there are different patterns of development and organization. In our previous work, we have found that about 15% of boys with ASD have a large brain form of autism. Besides a big brain, we have found that these kids have a different behavioral profile than other kids with ASD. On average, they showed fewer gains in IQ and language by age 5. However, some children with ASD and a big brain showed gains instead. The primary goal of this project is to further study the large brain ASD children compared to other children with and without ASD.

Any, age 24- 42 months

Study of anxiety treatments in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

How can therapy or medication better alleviate symptoms of anxiety and/or autism?

We hope to learn more about anxiety as it uniquely manifests in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and determine how best to alleviate anxiety in children with autism. Forty to eighty percent of children and preadolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit clinically significant anxiety symptoms, which are associated with increased social deficits, depression, irritability, and stereotyped and self-injurious behaviors. While it is clear that anxiety symptoms represent a substantial problem for those with ASD, important issues that could inform treatment remain unresolved. We seek to better characterize anxiety in autism and determine whether therapy or medication can better alleviate symptoms of anxiety and/or autism.

Any, age 8-14 years old

The role of the subthalamic nucleus (SBN) in perceptual decision-making in humans

Help us understand how electrical signals in the brain translate to the making of decisions

The purpose of this research is to help us understand how the brain makes decisions. Several mental diseases, such as disorders of addiction, are due to problems with the way people make decisions. These diseases are very common. When these mental diseases are severe, sometimes medications are no longer effective. In these difficult cases, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery may be an option. However, until we understand how the electrical signals in the brain translate to the making of decisions, we cannot design surgeries to treat these patients. Therefore, this study will help us understand the specific ways the brain makes certain types of decisions. We hope that this research will help us develop new treatments for people with mental diseases

Any, age 18-100

Is viewing videotaped interviews with patients as effective as psychiatric evaluation via live teleconference in SNFs?

Help us learn more about new approaches to providing psychiatric consultations in Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs)

There is a critical shortage of psychiatric services to people with mental illness who live in Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs), especially those in rural settings. Although real-time video conferencing psychiatric consultation, termed Synchronous Telepsychiatry (STP), has been around for almost 3 decades, its adaptation is met with logistic and other challenges. This study looks at video taped interviews of patients, viewed at a later time by psychiatrists, called asynchronous telepsychiatry (ATP) compared to live video conferencing evaluation, (synchronous psychiatry).

Behavioral study
Any, age 18 to 100 years old