Building Towards an Adolescent Neural Urbanome: Expanding Environmental Measures using Linked External Data (LED) in the ABCD Study


Many recent studies have demonstrated that environmental contexts, both social and physical, have an important impact on child and adolescent neural and behavioral development. The adoption of geospatial methods, such as in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, has facilitated the exploration of many environmental contexts surrounding participants’ residential locations without creating additional burdens for research participants (i.e., families) in neuroscience studies. However, as the number of linked databases increases, developing a framework that considers the various domains related to child and adolescent environments external to their home becomes crucial. Such a framework needs to identify structural contextual factors that may yield inequalities in children’s built and natural environments; these differences may, in turn, result in downstream negative effects on children from historically minoritized groups. In this paper, we develop such a framework – which we describe as the “adolescent neural urbanome” – and use it to categorize newly geocoded information incorporated into the ABCD Study by the Linked External Data (LED) Environment & Policy Working Group. We also highlight important relationships between the linked measures and describe possible applications of the Adolescent Neural Urbanome. Finally, we provide a number of recommendations and considerations regarding the responsible use and communication of these data, highlighting the potential harm to historically minoritized groups through their misuse.