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UNMC conducting study of irritability in children, adolescents with disruptive behavior, mood disorders

UNMC conducting study of irritability in children, adolescents with disruptive behavior, mood disorders

Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center are seeking children and adolescents for a study on the impact of oxytocin on irritability/emotional dysregulation in children and adolescents with disruptive behavior and mood disorders. Researchers plan to enroll 104 participants.

Irritability is one of the most common reasons children and adolescents are referred for behavioral health care. The study uses a combination of brain imaging (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Magneto Encephalography) and oxytocin or placebo nasal spray to look for signals in brain areas that are responsible for irritability. The goal is to improve mood and behavior as well as study changes in the brain.

Soonjo Hwang, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist conducting the study, specializes in research using brain imaging in children and teenagers. The imaging tools allow researchers to see changes in brain activity and how they relate to changes in mood and behavior.

The study is seeking children and adolescents, ages 10-18, who:

  • Have high levels of irritability;
  • Have no metal in or on the body;
  • Have had no medication changes in the past six weeks;
  • Are willing to use a nasal spray; and
  • Are not pregnant.

Participants are expected to:

  • Complete four to five visits over a five-week period (two of the visits will be at Boys Town National Research Hospital);
  • Use the nasal spray medication as directed;
  • Complete questionnaires about mood and behavior symptoms;
  • Complete two MEG scans, two fMRI scans, an IQ test and a psychiatric interview; and
  • Provide an optional cheek swab for genetic testing.

Parents/legal guardians will complete questionnaires on their child’s mood and behavior symptoms. For more information, contact Arica Lerdahl at 402-552-6101 or


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