Principles for Guiding the Selection of Early Childhood Neurodevelopmental Risk and Resilience Measures: HEALthy Brain and Child Development Study as an Exemplar

Amanda Sheffield Morris, Lauren Wakschlag, Sheila Krogh-Jespersen, Nathan Fox, Beth Planalp, Susan B. Perlman, Lauren C. Shuffrey, Beth Smith, Nicole E. Lorenzo, Dima Amso, Claire D. Coles, Scott P. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The vast individual differences in the developmental origins of risk and resilience pathways combined with sophisticated capabilities of big data science increasingly point to the imperative of large, neurodevelopmental consortia to capture population heterogeneity and key variations in developmental trajectories. At the same time, such large-scale population-based designs involving multiple independent sites also must weigh competing demands. For example, the need for efficient, scalable assessment strategies must be balanced with the need for nuanced, developmentally sensitive phenotyping optimized for linkage to neural mechanisms and specification of common and distinct exposure pathways. Standardized epidemiologic batteries designed for this purpose such as PhenX (consensus measures for Phenotypes and eXposures) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Toolbox provide excellent “off the shelf” assessment tools that are well-validated and enable cross-study comparability. However, these standardized toolkits can also constrain ability to leverage advances in neurodevelopmental measurement over time, at times disproportionately advantaging established measures. In addition, individual consortia often expend exhaustive effort “reinventing the wheel,” which is inefficient and fails to fully maximize potential synergies with other like initiatives. To address these issues, this paper lays forth an early childhood neurodevelopmental assessment strategy, guided by a set of principles synthesizing developmental and pragmatic considerations generated by the Neurodevelopmental Workgroup of the HEALthy Brain and Child Development (HBCD) Planning Consortium. These principles emphasize characterization of both risk- and resilience-promoting processes. Specific measurement recommendations to HBCD are provided to illustrate application. However, principles are intended as a guiding framework to transcend any particular initiative as a broad neurodevelopmentally informed, early childhood assessment strategy for large-scale consortia science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-267
Number of pages21
JournalAdversity and Resilience Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Early childhood
  • HBCD
  • Infancy
  • Neurodevelopmental assessment
  • Pragmatic assessment


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