Research Study Volunteers

The MNL uses behavioral and neuroimaging (MRI) methods to examine cognition in young (18-30) and older adults (55 yrs and older). Both behavioral and MRI studies take place at the Jamaica Plain campus of the VA Boston Healthcare System.

Behavioral Studies:

These studies involve paper and pencil, verbal, and computer-based tasks designed to examine thinking, memory, and attention. Computer-based tasks involve viewing pictures or words on a computer screen and making judgments about what was seen by pressing a button on a computer keyboard or mouse. For instance, the word “BASKETBALL” might be presented on the screen, and the participant may be asked if the word is a “natural” or “man-made” object. Some of these studies are one session, whereas others are multiple sessions. Each session typically ranges from 1-3 hours, with longer sessions incorporating rest breaks for the participant.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Studies:

Our MRI studies involve computer-based tasks similar to those used in our behavioral studies. However, these tasks are performed while the participant is in the MRI scanner. During the MRI scan, pictures of the brain are taken to examine brain structure, as well as neural activity during cognitive operations, such as remembering previously presented items. MRI sessions vary in duration (e.g., up to 4 hours), but participants typically do not spend more than 90 minutes in the MRI scanner.


Prior to participation in behavioral or MRI studies, we will go through a phone screening to determine study eligibility. The phone screening takes approximately 10-15 minutes. Participants usually need to meet the following criteria (as well as others that will be discussed during the phone screening):

1) Over 18 years old

2) Native English speaker

3) No present or history of neurological disease (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, seizure disorder, stroke)

4) In addition, for MRI studies, participants must not have:

1.  metal in their body, such as: non-removable body piercings, permanent makeup, tattoos with metallic ink, shrapnel, pacemaker, cochlear implants, clips, pumps

2.  claustrophobia

3.  difficulty laying still on their back for up to 90 minutes

Contact us by phone if you are interested in participating in one of our studies.