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The Gaab Lab for Developmental Neuroscience

BabyBOLD study (New!)

The Gaab Lab was recently awarded a five-year grant which allows us to expand upon our Detecting Children At Risk for Dyslexia in Infancy study. This new study is unique in that it is perhaps the first longitudinal infant dyslexia study using MRI technology in the world.

Research has shown a genetic link in the development of dyslexia, with children who have a family history (at least one first degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, with a diagnosis) at a higher risk than children without a family history. Thus, this study seeks to use brain imaging techniques as well as reading, language, and cognitive assessments to track the development of the reading network in the brains of children from infancy through Pre-K. Specifically, we are interested in looking at the differences in this development for children who have a familial risk of developing dyslexia versus those who do not.

One component of this study that was not seen in the lab’s prior studies is the opportunity also to look at the parents’ brains and to have them complete a series of language assessments. The purpose of this addition is to attempt to shed further light on the inter-generational transmission of dyslexia.

This study has the potential to:

  • Help us to better understand how the brain works during reading among native English-speaking children and adults
  • Give us a better understanding of brain processes in children with and without a risk for developmental dyslexia, which could lead to improvement and implementation of early remediation programs that could make a big difference for children with dyslexia
  • Allow parents an exciting opportunity to observe changes in their child's brain and cognitive development over five years

We are looking for:

  • Infants between the ages of 2 and 8 months and their parents to participate over a five-year period
  • Infants who have had exposure to English since birth
  • Families with an without a family history of dyslexia

Details of study participation:

  • This study would involve visiting the lab at three different time points in your child's life (2-8 months old, 14-20 months old, and pre-Kindergarten), and one additional time for a parent visit.
  • First visit (2-8 months): We will invite you to come in around your child's usual nap time, perform one behavioral developmental asssessment, and then go through your child's naptime routine in order to ease your child into a deep sleep before placing him/her in the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner.
  • Second visit (14-20 months): This visit follows the same structure as the first visit, described above.
  • Third visit (pre-K): This visit is divided into two 3-hour sessions, which can be conducted on the same day or on separate days, according to your preference.
    1. Session 1: The child will perform pencil and paper psychometric assessments with a certified tester which measure pre-reading, language, and cognitive abilities. You will receive a comprehensive score report of your child's performance relative to other children their age.
    2. Session 2: The child will spend one hour in our mock MRI room, which contains a model of the actual MRI scanner, in order to become accustomed to the MRI and to practice the games he/she will play during the scan. During the actual scan, your child will lie on the scanner bed for about 90 minutes and make button responses based on pictures and sounds presented on a screen and headphone system.
  • Parent visit: At any point during the five years your child is enrolled in the study, we would also like to have you, the parents, complete a set of written language assessments as well as a short, 30-minute MRI scan.

Compensastion:
For your participation in the study, you and your child will receive:

  • A $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble for each study visit you attend
  • A small prize from our trasure chest for each study visit
  • Reimbursement for local travel and parking, as appropriate

We are currently recruiting for this study. If you are interested in participating or would like more information, please email us at gaablab@childrens.harvard.edu or give us a call at 857-218-4629.