Brains In Growth-Emotions Study

Temper tantrums and feelings of anger, frustration, and irritable mood are common during early childhood, and for most children, they decrease across childhood. However, for some children, these emotions persist and even get worse. The Brains in Growth-Emotions Study (the BIG-E Study) hopes to identify young children who are at greatest risk for persistent irritability and understand why some children’s irritability improves across development. 


The BIG-E Study is a collaboration between our lab at UMD and Dr. Jillian Lee Wiggins and the Translational Emotion Neuroscience and Developmental (TEND) Lab at San Diego State University (SDSU). In this study, we aim to understand irritability in young children and it relates to the brain using fMRI, parent-child interaction tasks, and neuropsychological assessments. The BIG-E study is currently underway at SDSU and is recruiting children ages 5-6 years old and their parents. To inquire about this study, please call (619) 784-5543 or email

Relevant Publications

+Chad-Friedman, E., Galano, M. Lemay, E. P., Olino, T. M., Klein, D. N., Dougherty, L. R. (in press). Parsing between- and within-person effects of childhood irritability: Prospective associations with later internalizing and externalizing problems. Development and Psychopathology.

+Sorcher, L. K., Goldstein, B. L., Finsaas, M. C., Carlson, G. A., Klein, D. N., Dougherty, L.R. (2021). A 12-year prospective study: Preschool irritability predicts adolescent psychopathology and functional impairment. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry [PDF].

Dougherty, L. R., Schwartz, K. T. G., Kryza-Lacombe, M., Weisberg, J., +Spechler, P. A., & Wiggins, J. L. (2018). Preschool and school-age irritability predict  reward-related brain function. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 57(6), 407-417. PMID: 29859556; [PDF].

Dougherty, L. R., Galano, M., Chad-Friedman, E., Olino, T. M., Bufferd, S. J., & Klein, D. N. (2021). Using item response theory to compare irritability measures in early adolescent and childhood samples. Assessment, 28, 918-927. PMID: 32613838; [PDF].