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Research projects at the University of Calgary

Participate in research at the University of Calgary

Researchers from across the University of Calgary have ongoing research projects into child development. For more information on other research programs, visit the University of Calgary research participation page.  

Research Projects

Cortical excitability and dopamine in ADHD

Many children are diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) every year. Our goal is to understand which parts of the brain relates to children's feelings of impulsiveness, restlessness, hyperactivity, and trouble paying attention. To understand how these feelings relate to parts of the brain, we will use neuroimaging and non-invasive brain stimulation, known as theta burst stimulation (TBS). TBS uses transcranial magnetic stimulation to change cortical activity in attempts to change attention and impulsivity. TBS can be given intermittently or continuously, which and increase or decrease the excitability of the brain. 

All children (ages 10 to 16 years) with and without ADHD are invited to take part in the study. Participants will complete cognitive tasks before and after a TBS session (~15 to 20 minutes) one of three different stimulation protocols to the right frontal lobe. This will help investigate the effect of TBS stimulation on cognitive skills and cortical excitability in children with ADHD.

The study has been approved by the University of Calgary Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board (REB23-0047). 

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Sleep and Problem Behaviours in Children with Autism

Many children with Autism have difficulties with sleep. Sleep difficulties have been linked with irritability, and mood difficulties. We would like to learn more about how sleep difficulties and Autism symptoms relate to problem behaviours in children

We are recruiting children age 6-12 years of age with Autism Spectrum Diagnosis. Parents will answer questions online relating to Autism symptoms and behaviour difficulties. We will then mail the family an actigraphy device to wear for 7 days and a sleep diary to complete while the child is wearing the device.  

This study has been approved by the University of Calgary Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board (REB21-1601). 

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The purpose of this biobank is to collect stool, urine, saliva and blood (optional) samples and clinical data in order to study the microbes present in the gut in participants who have different mental and neurological disorders at 6 month intervals. Samples will be taken every 6 months for 2 years. How the microbiome changes over time and how that relates to mental health symptoms will be studied to inform possible treatment options.

Individuals ages 5 years and over with mood disorder (depression and bipolar disorder), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Eating Disorders or panic disorder are eligible.

The study has been approved by the University of Calgary Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board (REB21-0808). 

Tailored Psychobiotics: A Microbiome Biobank for Mental Health Research

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Perspectives of parents and students in the individual education plan

Has your school-age child just received a diagnosis? Will you be seeking special programming from their school?

We would like to hear about your experience as you navigate the school system following the diagnosis. To participate, we would want to interview you WITHIN ONE MONTH OF RECEIVING A DIAGNOSSIS for your child and then APPROXIMATELY 6 MONTHS LATER We want to know what is was like to receive the diagnosis, what you expect from the school, and what it was like to access special education services.

This study will provide a better understanding of parents needs as they navigate the special education system and how the special education process could be improved.

Participants will receive a $50 gift card for each interview.

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MINDDful XD Microbiome Influences on Neurodivergent Brain Development

We know that both genetics and environmental factors play a role in the development and severity of neurodevelopmental conditions like autism, ADHD, OCD and Tourette syndrome. The gut microbiota helps to regulate how the immune system matures and how the brain develops and functions, in what is called the gut-brain axis. Because of this, we are interested in if there is also a similar association between these conditions and the gut microbiota in the hope that we can develop new treatments in the future. We are hoping to connect with families that have a neurodiverse child and an unaffected sibling (without a diagnosis) between the ages of 5 and 18, so that we can understand the relationships between neurodevelopment, behaviour, and the gut microbiota.


This study has three components:

  1. An online survey for each child. It will ask about prenatal and perinatal history, medical diagnoses and medications, child behaviours, mental health, and diet. This survey usually takes 60 minutes to complete.

  2. Each child will be asked to provide a stool sample. Samples are collected at home and couriered to our lab.

  3. A short 15-minute telephone survey scheduled at your convenience. This interview will ask about medical history, gastrointestinal health, and tic behaviors.


Each child will receive a $60 Everything gift card for their time. This card allows you to choose your own gift cards from over 40 different retailers

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