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Children with conduct problems

Children with conduct problems (CP) are repetitively and persistently aggressive, destructive and break rules in social and school settings. Understanding the cause(s) of CP is important as these children are much more likely to have continued problems in adult life. This includes alcoholism, drug abuse, mental illness, criminality, domestic violence, unemployment and early death. They also cost society billions of pounds each year and have significant emotional costs on their victims. 

The underlying cause(s) for CP is probably complex but there is compelling evidence that children with CP have differences in brain anatomy and function. However, no one has analysed whether there are specific brain differences that: a) predict resistance to change; and/or b) are 'reversible'.  

To achieve this, we will use brain imaging techniques to analyse the brain in CP children before and after a well-validated parent training intervention, which has been demonstrated to effectively reduce antisocial behaviour in CP children. 

If successful, our work will help us to: a) better understand the relationship between brain abnormalities in CP and antisocial behaviour, and b) identify why antisocial behaviour in some children with CP is more resistant to change than others. 

It is also anticipated that our findings will also assist in focusing future research into the molecular basis of CP, and ultimately lead to better treatments. 

Project status: Ongoing