Thank you for your interest in the Brain and Vision Research Laboratory research projects. On this page you will find all the information that you will need to volunteer for participation in our research studies. All of our studies are designed to help shed light on visual-cognitive functions and how they are modulated by attention, memory or learning and to extend knowledge about brain changes after stroke or head trauma. There are three different kinds of tasks for which we would welcome your participation, and information for all are provided below. Please note that none of these studies are invasive or involve the use of drugs, and most involve only a single session.
Opportunities are available to participate in behavioral studies, involving paper-and-pencil tests and tasks on computers (no computer experience is necessary to participate). The behavioral studies take place on the Boston University Charles River Camps, close to the Kenmore Square. Our lab is easily accessible by public transportation (minutes from MBTA Green Line, “BU East” stop). Volunteers will be paid at an hourly rate for their participation.
(Please see the Directions page for further directions)
Volunteers for behavioral studies must meet the following criteria to be eligible: you must be between eighteen and thirty-five (18-35) years of age, or between forty-five and sixty-five (45-65) years of age. In addition, you must have normal or corrected-to-normal vision and hearing, have no history of diabetes, stroke, head-trauma or cancer, no untreated high blood pressure, and must not be taking any mood-altering drugs.
Volunteers may also participate in studies that use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to allow researchers to measure the participant’s brain activity while various cognitive tasks are performed. The MRI studies take place at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging in Charlestown, MA. The Martinos Center is accessible by a free shuttle service departing from MGH and North Station in Boston.
(Please download the Directions to Martinos Center page for further directions)
Our fMRI studies involve approximately 2 hours of scanning, plus an additional 15 minutes before and after he scans for preparation and post-experiment debriefing. During the first half-hour in the scanner, you will simply lie still while we take structural images. During the remainder of the time you will perform simple visual-cognitive tasks (e.g. looking at moving pictures on screen). We will give you an image of your brain at the end of the session.
The major screening criteria to be able to participate in fMRI studies are as follows:
. must be between 18-60 years of age,
. must be right-handed,
. must have no metal in your body (dental fillings are okay),
. must be not claustrophobic,
. must not have a history of head trauma or medical condition that might interfere with breathing (e.g. asthma).
. if your participation is as a healthy subject, you must have no history of neurological disorders (e.g. epileptic seizures), heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, no untreated high blood pressure, or be taking any mood-altering drugs.
The fMRI study requires that you will be able to lie still during the entire scan, and to help you do this, we place foam cushions around your head and use pads to keep your head immobile. Note also that when you are in the scanner, you are lying on your back in a relatively narrow space, so if you are very broad shouldered or of a large build, then this is likely to be uncomfortable for you.
In addition, prior to determining your eligibility to become a fMRI subject, you will fill in additional questionnaire and will also undergo a preliminary testing of some baseline aspects of your visual perception. To determine whether a stroke patient qualifies for participation in fMRI scanning, we will request to review his/her clinical MRI/CT scans and their recent medical information.
For further information on fMRI and participating in fMRI study]
If you would like to participate:
If you think that you might be interested in becoming involved in our research studies, please fill out and submit the Volunteer Questionnaire (coming soon). No information will be stored anywhere on the website. All of your responses will be kept confidential, encrypted and securely sent to a password-protected computer accessible only to the researchers involved in this project. Still, if you would prefer to fill out the volunteer questionnaire on paper, via e-mail, or over the phone, please contact us and we can arrange that. We will review your questionnaire responses and contact you within a week, regardless of your eligibility in our research studies. Please make sure that you give us your contact information (e-mail or phone).
Refusal or Withdrawal of Participation:
Participation in this study is voluntary. You do not have to participate in this study. If you are a patient and you decide to participate, you can change your mind and drop out of the study at any time without affecting your present or future care in the Hospitals. In addition, the doctor in charge of this study may decide to end your participation in this study at any time after he/she has explained the reasons for doing so.
For Further Information:
Director: Lucia M. Vaina, M.D., Ph.D.
Please see the Contact Us page.