Project BILD (Brain Imaging Language Development)

This collaborative study between Boston University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) looks at language, reading and cognitive abilities during childhood. Our research team includes neuroscientists, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, and educators. We will assess your child in the areas of language, reading and cognition.  Your child will also participate in language activities and we will examine how your child’s brain responds using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).  The MRI machine utilizes a large magnet to record brain activity.  MRI is absolutely safe for children, and can be a fun learning experience for children and their families!  During the MRI your child will get to play games and watch a movie.  In appreciation for participation, your child will receive a picture of his or her brain, a CD with structural brain images from the MRI scan, gift cards, and the merits of being a “young scientist!” You may also request a score report of your child’s performance on the standardized language measures.

This video from the Gabrieli Lab at MIT explains what to expect when participating in an MRI study:

Who can participate?

Children and teens aged 5-17. This includes boys and girls who are native speakers of English and who have a language based learning disorder, have an autism spectrum disorder, or are typically developing.


What do participants do?

Participation in our studies usually involves 2-3 visits to MIT. These include:
Behavioral testing (~ 3 hours)
Complete a battery of standardized language and cognitive assessments.
Brain imaging (~ 2.5 hours per visit)
Play word, language and memory games while lying in the MRI scanner

Where and when?


All sessions are held at MIT in Cambridge, MA. We are a short walk from the Kendall/MIT Red Line T stop. We also offer free parking. We can schedule your sessions at your convenience: days or evenings, weekdays or weekends.

What will I receive?

Participants receive $30 per hour for brain imaging and $20 per hour for the behavioral testing. Children under age 18 are paid in gift cards. Participants can also receive pictures of their brains and a CD of brain images to take home!

 If you are interested in participating please click here to fill out a form and someone will contact you.


It is our hope to advance scientific understanding of the typical and atypical development of language and reading.  It is our goal to help parents, clinicians and educators  in their diagnostic and remediation efforts with children with language and reading difficulties.  To learn more about the study contact us