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The Gaab Lab for Developmental Neuroscience

Why participate?

Your help will be invaluable to families and scientists interested in reading, language and cognitive development, early diagnosis of learning disabilities and improvement of teaching methods. Your child will receive a gift certificate for a local bookstore and a small toy to take home after each session. Your child will also receive a CD with his or her brain pictures. Each year, we will provide you with a descriptive summary of the scores on tests administered during the behavioural session. You will be reimbursed for transportation to the assessment location and for the cost of parking.

Will my schedule be accommodated?

We are very flexible. For the behavioural session(s), you can come in during the day or in the evenings as well as on weekends. You can choose to come in on 1 day (with a longer break in between) or on 2 different days. All behavioural sessions can usually take place at our location in Boston or Waltham.

Is the information shared with us after the children are tested?

Sure, please let us know if you are interested. We can send you a report after your/your child’s study participation. We will also keep you updated about all findings emerging from our studies.

What will my child's role be in this research study?

Participants role will vary from project to project. Please see individual studies on the left for specific participation information.

What are the risks of fMRI scanning?

For most people fMRI is a very safe procedure, but because the MRI chamber is basically a huge magnet, some individuals (e.g., those who have metal in their body) should not have an fMRI scan. The MRI scanner makes loud banging noises during the scanning session. During the MRI study your child will be provided with earplugs to reduce the noise heard from the scanner. Some people find it uncomfortable and/or claustrophobic to lie in the closed space of the MRI scanner. For most others, the experience initially feels a little “weird”, but they quickly adapt.

What if we decide to discontinue our participation in the study?

Your child's participation in our research is completely voluntary. You have the right to withdraw your child from at any time. Your choice of whether or not to have your child participate will not affect your current or future dealings with Boston Children's Hospital. If, during the course of this research study, there are new findings that might affect your willingness to be involved with the study, the researchers will inform you of those findings.

Why would I be taken off the study early?

Sometimes we will exclude your child from the study based on our behavioral measures or the results of our questionnaires. Your child may also be taken off the study if you/your child are unable to attend the study visits required or the Principal Investigator feels it is in the best interest of you/your child to be taken off this study.

Do people working in the lab have experience working with children?

The Principal Investigator, Nadine Gaab, has substantial experience with functional and structural MRI in children and adults. To date, she has examined over 150 children between the ages of 4 and 12 using fMRI. Other members on the team have extensive backgrounds in Education and Psychology and years of experience in working with children.

What will happen to information obtained during this study?

All information obtained for the purpose of this study will be kept confidential in accordance with the HIPAA policy (see attached handout). Reports published as a result of the study will not include any identifying information about your child and will not be traceable to him or her.

Is my child eligible to participate in this study?

The participation criteria vary from study to study. Please see the decision diagram below to check whether your child qualifies for this specific study. Please note that even if they don’t qualify for one of our current studies, they may qualify for the future studies. If you are not sure whether your child meets the criteria, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

What exactly is this brain scanner?

The complicated name for what our 'brain camera' or 'brain scanner' does is 'functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging' (fMRI). It mainly uses magnets and computers to take pictures of the brain. However, for the pictures to be clear, you will have to lie very still while the camera is working.

How long will it take?

You will be at the GaabLab for about 2-2.5 hours, so there will be enough time for you to become comfortable with the scanner. You will help us take pictures of our assistant Froggy's brain. That way you will know exactly what to expect and can also take him into the scanner with you. You will only spend about 30-45min in the scanner.

Is it safe?

Yes, MRI is completely safe and painless. You will only notice that we are taking pictures of your brain because the scanner makes a knocking and beeping sound. Therefore, your ears will be protected by earplugs.

Can anybody have an fMRI scan?

Most people can have an fMRI scan. However, if you have metal in your body, you cannot participate. Such metal includes:
  • dental braces
  • permanent dental retainers
  • cochlear implant
  • aneurysm clip
  • metal fragments in the eye
  • shrapnel
  • neurostimulator
  • cardiac pacemaker

Can somebody else be in the scanner with me?

Yes, one researcher will be right next to you the entire time. Your Mom and/or Dad will be able to see everything through a big window. We will also give you a button to press in case you ever feel uncomfortable. In addition, you will be able to talk to us and hear us through headphones.

What kind of clothing should I wear?

You should wear metal-free, comfortable clothing, like a t-shirt and sweatpants. We can also always provide you with a gown and we have a comfortable blanket if you feel cold.

Do I need to bring anything?

No, we will give you anything you need, including headphones, earplugs, and a gown or blanked if you need them. If you get hungry or thirsty, we will also have little snacks.

Can I wear glasses?

If you have glasses with metal frames, we can provide you with glasses with plastic frames that you can wear as long as you are in the scanner. In that case, we ask you to bring along the prescription information for your glasses, so we can give you the right ones.

More questions?

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