AIR Program Mission

Our mission is to improve the lives of children, teens and adults who experience severe problems in attention, impulsivity or cognitive and emotional regulation. We strive to develop new treatments to promote better personal, academic, occupational and relationship success. We know that those severely affected by these issues have amazing potential, and it is our mission to help individuals achieve that potential. This includes difficulty with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), vulnerability for substance use and problems with self-regulation.

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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most common childhood behavioral disorder associated with problems with attention, impulsivity and regulation, affecting 5 to 7 percent of school-age children and 4 percent of adults. Individuals with ADHD may:

  • Act quickly without thinking and interrupt others (impulsivity)
  • Fidget, have difficulty sitting still and staying on-task, experience restlessness (hyperactivity) or
  • Daydream, get easily sidetracked (inattention) and distracted and have difficulty with following through on goals.

ADHD impacts school performance, work, friendships and daily functioning. Persons with ADHD have a higher rate of automobile accidents, are less likely to earn a high school degree or maintain long-term relationships. The condition can require lifelong management. Depression, anxiety, substance abuse and learning disorders are common co-occurring conditions.  We need new research and better treatments to prevent the negative impact of ADHD and help people with the condition achieve success in life.

The UC Davis MIND Institute AIR Program is leading the field with research on the causes of the core problems associated with ADHD, that is inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.  Our translational research program uses a variety of research tools ranging from brain imaging to the analysis of large-scale data sets to better understand the underlying problems with ADHD and to identify targets for treatment. Our hope is to take interventions to the next level for all individuals with attentional and self-regulation problems and find the treatments that work best for different presentations of ADHD. Our work has implications beyond ADHD. Problems with attention and self-control are common in most neurodevelopmental and mental health disorders. Thus, if we find treatments that help symptoms of ADHD, it may help other conditions as well.  New treatment options we are exploring have the potential to improve symptoms of impulsivity and attention and other neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., autism and Fragile X), include cognitive training and the use of virtual reality classrooms. Because problems with attention, impulsivity and regulation can be associated with substance abuse we also have studies exploring what factors put a person at-risk for substance abuse in an effort to prevent problems with alcohol and drug abuse and addiction.