WHAT WILL I BE DOING IN THE RESEARCH STUDY?
- We will ask you to visit our offices at Penn State so that we can learn more about you. Participants typically visit the lab (located at the University Park campus) several times over the course of the study. Using the information you and other teens give us, we will learn more about how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors change over time.
- We want to know about how you think and feel, so we will ask you to answer some questions about your thoughts, feelings, and any emotional difficulties you are currently experiencing or have experienced in your life.
- We also want to know about how you respond to different kinds of information, like pictures of people or words. If you choose to participate, you will complete a few computer tasks that involve pictures and making decisions, similar to playing video games.
- We want to measure how your brain responds during computer tasks like those mentioned above, so we will ask you to complete a brain scan using a machine called an MRI scanner. Below is some information about the MRI machine and how you can prepare for the scan.
WILL ANYONE FIND OUT MY INFORMATION?
All of the information you give us is kept confidential. The information will be stored in locked cabinets and kept separate from your name and other identifying information. Your information will be associated with a unique number, not your name.
DO I GET ANYTHING FOR PARTICIPATING?
If you participate, we will pay you for your time. Your participation may also help neuroscientists to understand how brain changes in adolescence and young adulthood are linked with emotional health. We are happy to tell you more about our research if you are interested.
CAN I STOP IF I DON’T LIKE IT?
Yes, you can stop participating in the study at any time.
HOW DO I GET INVOLVED?
If you’re interested in participating, ask your parent (or legal guardian) to call us at (814) 863-7624 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
INFORMATION ABOUT BRAIN SCANS (MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING)
MRI is an abbreviation for magnetic resonance imaging. An MRI scanner is a large magnet that you lie down in and that is used to take images of your brain's anatomy and the way you think about things during particular tasks. This page will help you learn about MRI scanning and give you some ideas about how to practice for your own scan. Remember that you can always ask questions about the scan when you visit the lab.
Before we describe the MRI scanner, let’s learn a little about the brain. Here are some interesting facts about the human brain!
- Your brain weighs about 3 pounds and is about the size of a cantaloupe. The brain of a small dog, like a beagle, only weighs about .16 pounds and a cat’s brain only weighs about .07 pounds!
- Your brain uses 20% of your body’s energy, but makes up only 2% of your body’s weight.
- At birth, your brain was almost the same size as an adult brain and contained most of the brain cells for your whole life.
- A newborn baby’s brain grows almost 3 times in size during the first year of life!
- The brain feels like a sponge but is red because of the blood flowing in it.
- There are more than 20 billion neurons in the human brain. For reference, the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old, and there are 200-400 billion stars in our galaxy.
- Your brain is divided into two sides: the left side controls the right and the right controls the left.
How do we take pictures of your brain?
Your brain is largely made up of water molecules (about 75%). Each water molecule has two protons that tend to spin around like a top. When a person goes inside the powerful magnetic field of the MRI scanner, the spin of these protons changes to align with the direction of the magnetic field. Inside the MRI scanner a pulse of radio frequency energy is transmitted briefly, which flips the direction of the protons' spins in the brain. Once the pulse of energy stops, the protons emit energy as they return to the direction of the MRI's magnetic field. An electromagnetic receiver can detect this energy release, which provides the information used to reproduce an image of your brain! Although the MRI scanner uses electromagnetic energy to view the brain, people do not typically feel anything during the scan. And after the MRI scan is over, the protons go back to their original spins.
MRI FAQ (FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS)
What should I wear on scan day?
- Make sure to wear comfortable clothes. It is important that your clothes have no metallic parts such as a zipper, snap, or rhinestone. You can sweatpants or even pajamas! Also, make sure that you have no makeup on and remove all of your jewelry. If you usually wear glasses, bring your prescription with you so we can give you glasses that are safe to wear in the MRI scanner. We can give you a blanket to keep you warm if you need it too!
- Taking a picture of your brain is safe and painless. You will lie on the little bed with a blanket and pillow. The MRI scanner does make loud noises, but we give you ear plugs so that the noises are not too loud. It’s just really important that you stay really still so that your pictures come out very clear!
- Inside the MRI scanner, you will have a video screen and controller to play computer games. You'll learn how to play the game before we take the pictures of your brain. If you like, we’ll give you a picture of your brain that you can take home with you!
- There are many ways to practice for your MRI scan. The first thing that we suggest is watching this video: http://andl.wjh.harvard.edu/kids. It tells you all about MRI scans and shows a girl who completes a scan. This will give you a good sense of what participating in an MRI study is like.
The picture on the left shows an MRI image from someone who moved, whereas the person depicted on the right stayed still.
- After you watch the video, you can pretend you're lying inside the scanner and staying very still. Have you ever taken a picture of someone running or jumping? The picture comes out blurry. The MRI scanner works the same way.
- To practice at home, you could lie in your bed at night before you go to sleep and practice not moving. Or you could lie on the couch while you’re watching TV and practice being very still.
- Yes, you get to practice beforehand. We have a practice scanner that looks exactly like the real one and it makes the same sounds. This will help you get used to being inside the MRI scanner. Remember, you can always ask us any questions at any time!