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Volunteers needed for brain study in resilience research project

Why do some people with adverse childhood experiences develop mental health conditions whereas others do not? To find out, the Leiden research project THRIVE is looking for volunteers aged between 18 and 24 who are willing, among others, to have their brains looked at in the brain scanner. Sign up and help understand more about human resilience.

Fifty per cent of the world’s population has experienced a traumatic event during childhood − by this, we mean bullying, parents splitting up and abuse, for example. This is a major social problem, as it can often lead to mental health problems in student life. In the Netherlands, this applies to about a third of people who have had an adverse childhood experience. But there are people who are less affected by adverse childhood experiences if they are affected at all.

Some people seem to have a more resilient response to stressful childhood experiences than others. Why is this? The Leiden THRIVE (Towards Health and Resilience in Volatile Environments) project wants to answer that question so that young adults with traumatic childhood experiences can receive help with improving their resilience. THRIVE is on the lookout for research participants. Assistant professor Elizabeth Buimer is working with a team of scientists on this research.

What do you hope to find out in this research?

‘We don’t know exactly why one person suffers less than another from a traumatic childhood experience. We want to find out more about resilience so we can improve the help offered to people struggling with mental health problems following adverse childhood experiences.’

How will you research resilience?

‘By resilience, we mean responding positively during or after stressful experiences. How resilient someone is can change over time, and is also linked to all sorts of factors in that person and their social environment. Our resilience is enhanced by, for instance, personal characteristics, genetic influences, the brain, support from family or friends and influences from society. We therefore want to expose research participants aged 18 to 24 to a stressful situation and measure the response in their brains with a brain scan.

‘We already have a fairly good idea of which areas in the brain to look at to measure stress response. Then we will look at whether there are responses linked to good mental health. We will also examine how these participants’ brains respond to positive and negative feedback from others, and will have them answer questions about their mental health and social experiences.’

How many people do you need and when?

‘We still need lots of people, so feel free to sign up! The research will run for at least a few more years. As long as the project is running, participants who would like to will also receive a newsletter informing them about the interim results.’

Great if you would like to participate in this study. There are some requirements you’ll have to meet for the study: for example, you can’t have any metal in your body. We will look together at whether you can participate. Sign up or find out more!

Social Resilience and Security interdisciplinary research programme

The THRIVE study is led by Prof. Anne-Laura van Harmelen and is part of Leiden University’s Social Resilience and Security nterdisciplinary research programme van de Universiteit Leiden. Researchers from various branches of science are working together on how to improve people’s mental resilience to modern phenomena, such as violence, insecurity and feeling unsafe on social media.

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