This K01 application is designed to provide specialized training in the skills necessary to study the relation between functional neurobiology and the initiation, maintenance, and desistance of violent behavior across the lifespan. Although male violence is determined by multiple factors, dysfunction in the prefrontal neural circuitry subserving executive functions (i.e., working memory, inhibitory control), and the cortico-limbic network associated with processing cues of fearful distress in others has been implicated in the development of childhood-onset violence that persists into adulthood. However, few studies have examined the functional neural circuitry associated with male violence using contemporary functional neuroimaging techniques. As a result, little is known about the neurobiological functioning of men exhibiting childhood-onset persistent violence. It is also unclear whether neurobiological functioning differentiates childhood-onset violent males who persist in their violent behavior from those who desist from violence over time. To address these issues, the candidate will obtain additional training in: 1) the functional neural circuitry associated with cognitive abilities and emotion processing across the lifespan, 2) the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as a method for examining neural functioning, and 3) the role of neurobiological functioning in the development and maintenance of antisocial behavior, particularly violence. Using this training, an fMRI study will be conducted to examine the functional integrity of brain regions subserving executive functions (i.e., response inhibition, working memory) and responsiveness to social cues of fearful distress among three groups of men: childhood-onset violent persisters, childhood-onset violent desisters, and non-violent controls. Participants will be recruited from the Pittsburgh Youth Study (PYS), an ongoing longitudinal investigation that has annually assessed a cohort of boys from ages 7 to 19 using multiple sources. Funding is currently in place to re-evaluate the youngest cohort of the PYS at approximately age 25, and the proposed fMRI study will supplement this follow-up assessment. Because male violence is a serious public health problem, research aimed at understanding the development of persistent violence is a paramount concern. The proposed program of research would enhance our understanding of the relative role of brain functioning in the development, maintenance, and desistance of violent behavior across the lifecourse.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
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Child Psychopathology and Developmental Disabilities Study Section (CPDD)
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Friedman-Hill, Stacia
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University of Pittsburgh
Schools of Medicine
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