Participate in Research

 We seek to understand how the brain processes language and related cognitive functions. For this reason, we need YOU! Thank you for your interest in participating in our studies.


Active Projects

Our active projects are highlighted below.

If you think you may qualify to participate in any of the studies listed below, or if you are unsure, please use the form at the bottom of this page to contact our study personnel.

Alternatively, you may contact Dr. Brielle Stark: bcstark[at]iu.edu or (812) 855 7760.

Recruiting for the following projects:

Mood and social cognition study

This study investigates internal mood (e.g. happiness, sadness, etc.) and examines the potential relationship between mood and social cognition (i.e. the ability to read social cues and emotion in others) in individuals with brain injury and healthy adults. This study is being conducted as part of a master’s thesis through our Speech-Language pathology program.

What is aphasia? Aphasia is a problem speaking or understanding language, usually as a result of a brain injury like a stroke or trauma.

Who is eligible?

We are recruiting TWO groups of participants for this study: 1) adults (healthy, no neurological issues), 2) adults with an acquired brain injury and aphasia. All participants should be able to hear & see fairly well (with correction, i.e. glasses or hearing aids, is fine).

Please see below for the specific details:

TYPICAL GROUP: Typical Adults without brain injury or aphasia

    • 45-85 years of age

    • Right handed

    • Native English speaker

    • No diagnosis of neurological problems (e.g. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s) or cognitive impairment (e.g. dementia, mild cognitive impairment)

    • Willingness to undergo cognitive-language testing (e.g. behavior tasks)

    • OPTIONAL but preferred: Ability to undergo an hour-long brain MRI session

      • No metal implants (please if you have questions!); not claustrophobic; etc.

APHASIA GROUP: Adults with an acquired brain injury (i.e. stroke, traumatic brain injury, tumor, etc) and aphasia

  • 45 - 85 years old

  • Right handed

  • Native English speaker

  • Have had an acquired left hemisphere brain injury (e.g. stroke, tumor, viral encephalitis, traumatic brain injury, etc)

  • Have been diagnosed with aphasia or you feel that you have difficulty in speaking or understanding language/speech

    • No diagnosis of OTHER neurological problems (e.g. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s) or cognitive impairment (e.g. dementia, mild cognitive impairment)

  • Willingness to undergo cognitive-language testing (e.g. behavior tasks)

  • OPTIONAL but preferred: Ability to undergo an hour-long brain MRI session

    • No metal implants (please if you have questions!); not claustrophobic; etc.

BENEFITS of study participation:

You will be compensated for your time ($10/hour).

In addition to monetary compensation, your participation will greatly further our scientific understanding of language, thinking and the brain.

Principal investigators:

Brielle Stark, PhD - Assistant Professor in Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Program in Neuroscience

Madison Neumann, M.A. - Master’s student, Speech-Language Pathology

Brain, language and executive function study

We are interested in the relationship of language with thinking as well as language, thinking and the brain. We are interested in mapping change in the architecture (structure) and function of the brain and identifying how those changes relate to cognition. Specifically, we are interested in the brain’s structure-function pattern and the brain’s relationship to language ability in older adults and adults who have experienced a left hemisphere stroke.

What is aphasia? Aphasia is a problem speaking or understanding language, usually as a result of a brain injury like a stroke or trauma.

Who is eligible?

We are recruiting THREE groups of participants for this study: 1) adults (healthy, no neurological issues), 2) adults with an acquired brain injury and aphasia, or 3) adults with a left hemisphere stroke. All participants should be able to hear & see fairly well (with correction, i.e. glasses or hearing aids, is fine).

Please see below for the specific details:

TYPICAL GROUP: Typical Adults without brain injury or aphasia

    • 45-85 years of age

    • Right handed

    • Native English speaker

    • No diagnosis of neurological problems (e.g. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s) or cognitive impairment (e.g. dementia, mild cognitive impairment)

    • Willingness to undergo cognitive-language testing (e.g. behavior tasks)

    • OPTIONAL but preferred: Ability to undergo an hour-long brain MRI session

      • No metal implants (please if you have questions!); not claustrophobic; etc.

APHASIA GROUP: Adults with an acquired brain injury (i.e. stroke, traumatic brain injury, tumor, etc) and aphasia

  • 45 - 85 years old

  • Right handed

  • Native English speaker

  • Have had an acquired left hemisphere brain injury (e.g. stroke, tumor, viral encephalitis, traumatic brain injury, etc)

  • Have been diagnosed with aphasia or you feel that you have difficulty in speaking or understanding language/speech

    • No diagnosis of OTHER neurological problems (e.g. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s) or cognitive impairment (e.g. dementia, mild cognitive impairment)

  • Willingness to undergo cognitive-language testing (e.g. behavior tasks)

  • OPTIONAL but preferred: Ability to undergo an hour-long brain MRI session

    • No metal implants (please if you have questions!); not claustrophobic; etc.

NO APHASIA GROUP: Adults with left hemisphere stroke but no aphasia

  • 45 - 85 years old

  • Right handed

  • Native English speaker

  • Have had an acquired left hemisphere stroke

    • If you have a question about whether or not this fits you, please contact us

  • No diagnosis of aphasia, other neurological problems (e.g. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s) or cognitive impairment (e.g. dementia, mild cognitive impairment)

  • Willingness to undergo cognitive-language testing (e.g. behavior tasks)

  • Ability to undergo an hour-long brain MRI session

    • No metal implants (please if you have questions!); not claustrophobic; etc.

BENEFITS of study participation:

You will be compensated for your time ($10/hour for language and cognition assessments; $25 for the MRI scan). You will also receive a CD of your brain MRI.

In addition to monetary compensation, your participation will greatly further our scientific understanding of language, thinking and the brain.

Principal investigators:

Brielle Stark, PhD - Assistant Professor in Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Program in Neuroscience

Rick Betzel, PhD - Assistant Professor in Department of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences, Program in Cognitive Science and Neuroscience

Manaswita Dutta, MA CCC-SLP - PhD Student in Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences

 

If you think you may qualify to participate in any of the studies listed below, or if you are unsure, please use the form below to contact our study personnel. Alternatively, you may contact our lab email: neuralresearchlab@gmail.com or (812) 855 7760.

To speak with Dr. Brielle Stark directly, please email: bcstark@iu.edu

Name *
Name
Phone *
Phone
Please enter a good phone number so that our study personnel may contact you.
Contact Preference *
Would you prefer to be contacted by phone or by email?
Please select the group of study you (or the person for which you are filling out this form) is interested in participating in
Please select your age group
Is English your native language?
We would like to do an MRI. To do this, we look for people who are not claustrophobic and who have no significant metal implants. Some dental implants are fine. For significant implants, like joint replacements, we need documentation from a doctor regarding the make/model prior to making a judgment on whether you are MRI safe. If you are potentially interested in doing an MRI, please say 'yes' here.
Have you had a research MRI done before, i.e. an MRI not for a clinical purpose?
Please describe why you would be interested in participating and any questions about the study that you may have. We will get back to you as soon as possible!

About MRI

brie_mosaic.jpg

Dr. Stark’s brain!

 

introduction to mri

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a very safe methodology, which uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the brain and other cranial structures that are clearer and more detailed than other imaging methods. MRI does not use ionizing radiation (e.g. x-rays).

Why we do MRI

We take detailed pictures of your brain while you rest as well as while you do a task. We are interested in the areas of your brain (structure) and how the areas of your brain work together to do tasks (function).

our Mri

We have a 3 Tesla MRI system made by Siemens. It is located in our Psychological and Brain Sciences Department, 1101 E 10th Street. We’ll provide you with more detailed instructions when you schedule to participate.

What you will do in the MRI

For the first five minutes, we will take a detailed picture of your brain. Then, you will participate in a few tasks, which we will go over outside of the scanner. After this, you will be allowed to relax and close your eyes as we take more detailed pictures. The entire scan lasts just under an hour.

MRI Safety

When you come to our lab, we’ll give you an MRI screening form to fill out. You’ll also be asked about possible contraindications (e.g. things that might not be ideal to go into an MRI) when we do pre-screening. MRI is a very safe methodology and it remains safe because we, as trained operators of the scanner, take precautions against undue risk. For example, we will carefully identify any metal that you may have in or around your body. Not all metal implants are safe for an MRI, and we verify this before we schedule you for a scan. We also make sure that you take all of the metal off of your person prior to entering the scanner room. There are always two individuals in the scanner operating room, both trained in safety of MRI scanning. Dr. Stark has been doing MRI scans since 2012.

While the MRI is safe, some adverse events occur, albeit rarely. Sometimes, heating of skin can happen. This typically occurs when the skin is in contact with metal, or when there is metal in tattoos or a piece of metal has not been taken off of your person. As described above, we take great precautions to make sure that you are MRI safe before entering the scanner. Should we find anything that looks out of the ordinary on your brain scan, we are obligated to send the scan to the IU Health radiologists. We call these ‘incidental findings.’ We will not be privy to those results; radiologists will contact you directly. Should we find something out of the ordinary such as this, we will tell you and we will stop the scan. This is, again, a rare occurrence.

What to expect when you come for the MRI

It is best to wear comfortable clothes without metal (e.g. bra without underwire, loose clothing). You’ll meet one of our lab members ahead of the scan to go over any questions you have as well as the tasks you’ll be doing in the scanner. You’ll then be asked to fill out another MRI safety screening form and the operator of the scanner will go over this form with you to ensure that you are safe to enter the scanner room. You’ll leave any removable metal objects (e.g. wallet, phone, belt) outside of the scanner in a safe place. You will lie down on your back on a bed, which will be raised and then slowly pushed back into what we call a bore, i.e. the entrance of the scanner. Your body above your knees will be in this scanner bore. You’ll be equipped with a squeeze button, which you can press to alert us of any issue or any question. We have an intercom system with which we’ll talk to you throughout. You’ll wear ear protection and your head will be surrounded by styrofoam to dampen the noise and to make sure your head stays in the same position throughout the scan. You will also be given a leg rest to make lying on your back more comfortable. Scans are very susceptible to movement, so we ask that you remain very still when scanning is occurring. You will also receive a response device (e.g. buttons to press) for when you are asked to do the tasks that you practiced outside of the scanner.

It is typical for the scanner to make loud sounds as it takes pictures of your brain as well as the bed to slightly move throughout the scan. The sound and movement will change dependent on the type of image that we’re acquiring. This is all very typical. Some people report feeling ‘tingles’ throughout some scans, though this is rare. If, at any point, you should be uncomfortable, you are encouraged to press the squeeze ball. You will be provided a CD of your brain scan at the end of the session. We keep all brain scans on file for at least seven years, as per our Institutional Review Board obligation - therefore, should you ever need to send these brain scans to a neurologist or similar medical provider, please reach out to us and we will facilitate this process.

Helpful multimedia about MRI

A quick video showing one kind of brain scan we acquire from the MRI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LupvsT87Ec

More about MRI, including safety considerations (removing metal from your body, etc): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkmfQOET4pc

*** bear in mind we go in head-first, as we are only interested in taking pictures of the brain.

While this webpage is meant to be kid-friendly, it has great, easy to understand information about MRI: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/mri-brain.html

A very similar model to our own MRI scanner

A very similar model to our own MRI scanner