BrainChange Study

BrainChange Study

The goal of our UCSF BrainChange study is to use MRI imaging to observe brain changes in young people who undergo a training of attention and emotion regulation.

We are looking for young people of age 14-18 years who will get a chance to undergo a free 12-week training, in which they will learn self-regulation skills (breathing, yoga-based movements, meditation) that can help them relax, better regulate emotions, and improve attention. The group will meet weekly for 1.5 hours at UCSF Parnassus.

Participants will also undergo a 1-hour MRI scan and a computer-based attention test three times: 12 weeks before the training, right before the training, and after the training. MRI scans will take place at a state-of-the-art UCSF facility at Mission Bay. Participants who have completed three MRI scans will receive a $100 gift card ($50 gift card for two MRIs and no gift card if one or no MRIs were performed).

BrainChange TARA group setup



Group G7 (the group has ended)

Group G8 (the group has ended)

The schedule for the next groups is not yet available. Please email us to be added to the waitlist.

Exclusion Criteria

An important aspect is the exclusion criteria for our study:

  • Contraindications for MRI (pregnancy, claustrophobia, metallic implants, cardiac pacemaker, BRACES, etc)
  • Non-English speaker
  • Mental health problems (psychosis, severe anorexia nervosa, PTSD, severe suicidal ideation or attempt in past 3 months, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability (estimated IQ < 80), substance abuse other than nicotine). Adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD) and/or anxiety disorder and/or ADHD can be included if information about diagnosis, contact info of the therapist, medication dose and starting date can be provided.
  • Current mindfulness training (e.g. MBSR, MBCT, DBT) and/or practice of meditation or yoga of 20 or more minutes two or more times per week for the past two months. (The effects of training may be limited in persons already performing similar mindfulness practices).
  • Unable to attend MRI scans or more than 3 classes of the training (Please see the Schedule)

Our Team

Olga Tymofiyeva, PhD - Dept. of Radiology - Principal Investigator

Justin P. Yuan, BSc - Dept. of Radiology

Tony Yang, MD, PhD - Dept. of Psychiatry

Eva Henje Blom, MD, PhD - Dept. of Psychiatry - Lead Instructor, creator of the "Training of Awareness, Resilience and Action" (TARA)

Duan Xu, PhD - Dept. of Radiology

A. James Barkovich, MD - Dept. of Radiology

Donna Ferriero, MD - Dept. of Pediatrics