It is well known that with any intervention there is significant variation between participants in terms of the degree of benefits that they experience. As a result, it is important to understand the factors that might determine this variation in intervention outcomes by identifying variables that moderate intervention effects.
The SHARP study, which is a large intervention study of which this is a sub-study, uses an intervention strategy that targets self regulatory skills, particularly the ability to weigh long terms outcomes versus short terms outcomes in behavioral decision making. Given that these skills show significant developmental change across adolescence, we aim to examine whether adolescent cognitive and brain development might act as salient moderators of response to the intervention.
Adolescent maturation is typically operationalized by measuring chronological age, although this measure provide only a modest estimation of psychological maturation, especially during adolescence when individuals at the same age can vary greatly in maturation due to individual differences in the timing of key developmental processes such as puberty and brain development.
Accordingly, we are conducting an embedded study with a subset of the individuals taking part in the RCT phase of the study, whereby we will ask them to participate in a brain imaging assessment prior to the initiation of the intervention phase. Using this data to estimate brain maturation, we will explore whether indices of brain development act as salient moderators of intervention effects.