The Children’s Attention Project (CAP), commenced in 2011, is a prospective longitudinal study of almost 500 children with and without Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) recruited from Grade 1 (6 – 8 years old) classes across socio-economically diverse primary schools in Melbourne, Australia.  The study aims to map the course of ADHD symptoms over time and to identify risk and protective factors associated with differential outcomes.  CAP is the first Australian longitudinal study of children with and without ADHD and one of the first community-based longitudinal studies of children that meet the full diagnostic criteria for ADHD recruited in the early primary school years.  The study’s examination of a broad range of risk and protective factors and ADHD-related outcomes has the potential to inform novel strategies for intervention and prevention.

The Neuroimaging of the Children’s Attention Project (NICAP) sub-study is a comprehensive longitudinal multimodal neuroimaging study of approximately 200 children with and without ADHD from the CAP.  NICAP’s primary aims are to determine how brain structure and function change with age in children with and without ADHD, and whether different trajectories of brain development are associated with variations in outcomes including continuing to meet criteria for ADHD, and academic, cognitive, social and mental health outcomes.  Establishing which brain regions are associated with differential clinical outcomes may allow us to improve predictions about the course of ADHD.

Wave W1 (CAP) W2 (CAP) W3 (CAP) W3 (NICAP) W4 (CAP) W4 (NICAP) W5 (CAP) W5 (NICAP)
Baseline/screening 18 month
36 month
NICAP substudy wave 1 Wave 4 follow-up NICAP substudy wave 2 Wave 5 follow-up NICAP substudy wave 3
Age 7 years 8.5 years 10 years 10 years 11.5 years 11.5 years 13 years 13 years
Year 2011 – 2012 2013 – 2014 2014 – 2016 2014 – 2016 2016 – 2017 2016 – 2017 2018 – 2019 2018 – 2019
Anthropometrics Anthropometrics
Behavioural problems
Condition specific information
Education and childcare
Environmental exposures (toxins and allergens)
General health
Imaging Imaging Imaging
Medications and supplements
Mental health
Neurocognitive development Neurocognitive development Neurocognitive development
Reproductive health and pregnancy
Resilience and wellbeing
Sleep Sleep
Speech, language and literacy Speech, language and literacy Speech, language and literacy
Substance use
Temperament and personality
Linkage to other database(s) Linkage to other database(s)
Study Summary
Study name Children’s Attention Project (CAP) including Neuroimaging Sub-study (NICAP)
Study abbreviation CAP (and NICAP)
Current principal investigator/s Dr Emma Sciberras (CAP)
Dr Tim Silk (NICAP)
Primary Institution Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Collaborating Institution/s Deakin University
La Trobe University
Joondalup Child Development Centre (Joondalup, WA)
University of Sydney
Sydney Medical School
Major funding sources National Health and Medical Research Council
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Study website
Key reference for study (published study protocol) Sciberras, E., Efron, D., Schilpzand, E.J., Anderson, V., Jongeling, B., Hazell, P., Ukoumunne, O.C. and Nicholson, J.M. (2013). The Children’s Attention Project: a community-based longitudinal study of children with ADHD and non-ADHD controls. BMC Psychiatry, 13:18

Silk, T.J., Genc, S., Anderson, V., Efron, D., Hazell, P., Nicholson, J.M., Kean, M., Malpas, C.B. and Sciberras, E. (2016). Developmental brain trajectories in children with ADHD and controls: a longitudinal neuroimaging study. BMC psychiatry, 16(1): 59

Are data available to others outside study team? Yes, on request
Study focus (e.g. social development) Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, with a range of outcomes: mental health, academic, family and child well-being, quality of life
Sampling frame CAP:
Grade 1 children with and without ADHD, recruited across 43 socio-economically diverse government primary schools across Melbourne, Australia. All children were in Grade 1, the second year of formal schooling (6-8 years).Potential participants were screened for ADHD symptoms using independent parent and teacher reports on the Conners’ 3 ADHD index (~N = 5260).Children screening positive for ADHD by both parent and teacher report, and a matched sample (gender, school) screening negative, were invited to participate.
Recruited from CAP cohort, with equal number of cases and controls.
Study type (e.g. randomised control trial, cohort, case-control) Longitudinal cohort study
Year commenced 2011
Ongoing recruitment? No
Commencement sample (N) Total cohort: 497 (391 if excluding ‘high risk’ and ‘not determined’ groups).
Cases 179. Controls 212. High risk 100. Not determined 6.
Intergenerational (e.g. offspring)? No
Imaging (e.g. fMRI, ultrasound, retinal photograph)? Yes, NICAP sub-study:
– structural MRI (T1 and T2)
– Diffusion Weighted Imaging (DWI)
– resting state functional MRI
– Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping
Linkage (e.g. BioGrid, VPDC, NAPLAN, Medicare)? NAPLAN
School Entry Health Questionnaire
Australian Early Development Index
Biosamples (e.g. buccal, blood, hair)? Saliva
Ethics approvals or requirements (e.g. specific, extended, unspecified, other)? This project only (Specific consent)
Future research related to this project (Extended consent)
Year Age (mean, range) Eligible sample (not deceased, not withdrawn)
2011 – 2012 7.3 (range 6.4-8.7 years) Total cohort: 497 (391 if excluding ‘high risk’ and ‘not determined’ groups).
Cases 179. Controls 212. High risk 100. Not determined 6.
2013 – 2014 8.9 (range 7.7-10.2 years) Total 485 enrolled (invited 493).
Cases 138 completed survey of 206 still enrolled. Controls 169 (174). High risk 83 (99). Not determined 4 (6).
2014 – 2016 10.5 (range 9.3-12.7 years) Total 481.
Cases 143 completed part or all components (of 167 enrolled). Controls 159 (192). High risk 80 (93). Not determined 5 (6).
2014-2018 NICAP 10.5 (range 9.3-12.7 years) Total 122 (NICAP).
ADHD Persistent 34. Remitted 25. Controls 54. High risk 6. Not determined 3.

Principal Investigators

Dr Emma Sciberras (CAP)
Dr Tim Silk (NICAP)

Study Contact

+613 8341 6363

Postal Address

Children’s Attention Project
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
The Royal Children’s Hospital, Flemington Road
Parkville VIC 3052