Adolescent Brain Behavior Research Center

What is the ABBRC? The Adolescent Brain-Behavior Research Center (ABBRC) is a clinical research center associated with the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles (Director: Carrie Bearden, Ph.D.; co-Director, Katherine Karlsgodt, Ph.D.; Alaina Burns, M.D. and Misty Richards, M.D. Medical co-Directors). Adolescence can be a time of great change as young people learn to meet new challenges. The emergence of a psychotic and major mental illness during this period makes it difficult to meet life’s increasing demands, and can be extremely distressing and confusing for young people and their families. An important goal at the ABBRC is to work closely with teenagers and their families to learn more about the nature of these illnesses so that we may begin to develop more effective methods of treatment. Mental and emotional problems are like physical problems—the sooner they are treated, the better. The longer an illness is left untreated, the greater the disruption to a person’s ability to study, work, make friends and interact comfortably with others. Psychiatric referral suggestions, as well as clinical, psychosocial, and neuropsychological assessments, are available to research participants at the ABBRC

Is the ABBRC the right place for you? The ABBRC is designed for individuals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder who are between the ages of 12 -21.
What are some of the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorders?
 Unusual behavior
 Withdrawal from family, friends, and colleagues
 Pronounced suspiciousness
 Ideas of special powers, abilities or identity
 Distorted perceptions of sights, sound and speech
 Hearing voices and/or seeing visions
 Poor eating habits, sleeping patterns, personal hygiene
 Uncanny feelings that the world has become strange and unreal or that thoughts and behaviors are controlled by outside forces
 Diminished, blunted, or unusual emotional reactivity
 Difficulty concentrating
 Confused thinking
 Unusual beliefs
 Trouble understanding written and oral communication
 Elated happy mood or irritable, angry unpleasant mood.
 Poor judgment
 Slipping behind and failing at work and/or school

What do we do at the ABBRC? Potential patients work with a member of the ABBRC staff to complete an initial screening interview to determine whether they are eligible to participate in research at the ABBRC. Individuals who are eligible and choose to participate in the ABBRC research program will be asked to participate in the following research procedures (repeated over a one year period):
 Clinical Interviews
 Neurocognitive Testing
 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scans
 Psychosocial Evaluations
 Psychophysiological Examination
 Genetic Testing
Participants are compensated for their time for all research procedures.

The goals of the ABBRC are: To better understand the role the brain plays in attention, learning, and memory in adolescents with schizophrenia, schizoaffective, or bipolar disorder
 To learn more about how adolescents with these disorders process interpersonal and emotional information and interact with their family members
 To educate adolescents and their families about these illnesses
 To improve access to treatment for adolescents with these disorders and their families. The results of this project may help us to develop more effective treatments for adolescents with schizophrenia, schizoaffective, or bipolar disorder.

How to contact the ABBRC: Referrals to the ABBRC can be made by family physicians, psychiatrists, pediatricians, and mental health professionals. Individuals interested in help for themselves or someone they know may also contact us at: 310-206-9181 or