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New Era of Behavioral Health Research at Boys Town National Research Hospital

​​This article was posted on​ on November 22, 2016.

As Boys Town prepares to celebrate 100 years of service to children and our community, state of the art technology will help researchers better understand troubled young people.

A new era of childhood behavioral health is underway at Boys Town National Research Hospital. This impressive machine is part of the effort. Using magnetic resonance imaging a research team led by Dr. James Blair is looking for unusual activity in the brains of troubled children.

"Understanding what brain systems are necessary for performing particular functions and if those brain systems aren't working so well what types of behavioral problems we might see in the child and therefore understand some of the reasons for those behavioral problems and then potentially augment interventions to help those children better in the future," said James Blair Ph.D.

Subjects play video games while the machine tracks activity in the brain.

"These computer games are organized around making specific brain circuits work and so we can then see those brain circuits on the machine behind us and see the extent to which those systems are working well," Blair explained.

He's excited about what the team is seeing so far and what their work will do.

"Change the way that America cares for kids change the way that we adapt the interventions we have based around this increased knowledge of the strengths and difficulties that children have at the level of the brain," Blair said.

Blair doesn't expect this work will benefit every child who comes to Boys Town National Research Hospital but he thinks it will help some and that's an important step.

"About 20 percent of children who come to Boys Town who don't do as well as we would like to believe they ​should really help that 20 percent do even better in the future," he said.

Blair expects to see some of this research start to impact treatment as early as next year. ​