Brain Imaging Studies

Advanced Neuroimaging for Kids


Advanced Neuroimaging for Pediatric Studies is a research project recruiting typically developing children, 6-17 years old, with no history of head injury for a brain imaging research study. Those who participate will have one or more MRI brain scanning sessions. Sessions will last one hour or less. Volunteers are compensated for their time.

If you are interested in learning more about this study or would like to participate, please call the study coordinator at 608.265.1445 or email us at

PI: Steve Kecskemeti, PhD
Keywords: Child Development, Brain Imaging

Brain Imaging Study for Adults with Down Syndrome


The Waisman Center is seeking adults with Down syndrome, ages 30 and above, for a research study involving an MRI and a PET scan to examine amyloid plaque in the brains of these individuals. Researcher Brad Christian, PhD, will look at the link between amyloid plaques and Down syndrome. Individuals with Down syndrome have an extra 21st chromosome, which contains the gene that makes these proteins and could lead to earlier development of Alzheimer's disease.

The study takes two days, with the first day spent reviewing the procedures, completing a caregiver questionnaire, and neuropsychological testing for the individual with Down syndrome. On the second day brain imaging studies are performed, including an MRI that takes 30 minutes and a PET scan that takes an hour. There will also be a blood draw. You can watch a video that shows the imaging procedures on the following link:

Participants will receive compensation for time and expenses. There are some funds available for families who live a few hours from the Waisman Center to travel to Madison and have an overnight stay to allow the two study visits to be on consecutive days.

Please call Renee Makuch at 608.262.4717 or toll-free at 877.558.7595 for additional information. The Waisman Center is located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and this study is being conducted in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Down Syndrome Center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

PI: Brad Christian, PhD
Keywords: Down syndrome, Brain Imaging

Fraction Understanding in 2nd & 5th Graders


The Educational Neuroscience Lab and Mathematics Education Learning & Development Lab are working with the Waisman Center to investigate the development of fraction knowledge in children. Knowledge of fractions and mathematical competence are important determinants of life chances in modern society. Despite the importance of fraction knowledge, children and adults often encounter considerable difficulties understanding fractions. We are currently recruiting typically developing 2nd and 5th graders enrolled in Madison area public schools to participate in our longitudinal study. 

Participation will involve completing 2-4 sessions with us per year for four years. Sessions will include computer games about math, standardized assessments, surveys, and brain imaging. To qualify for the brain imaging portion, participants must pass the fMRI screening. Participants may not participate in the brain imaging portion of the study if they have any metal in their body or experience claustrophobia.

For every behavioral session completed, participants will receive $10.
For every brain imaging session completed, participants will receive $50.
Children under the age of 12 will also receive a toy after each session.

For more information, please call 608-263-4011, email, or visit

PI: Edward Hubbard, PhD & Percival Matthews, PhD
Keywords: Brain Imaging, Infant & Child Development, Education

Pediatric Brain Care Study


The Pediatric Brain Care Study is recruiting typically developing children, 9-17 years old, with no history of head injury for a brain imaging research study. Those who participate will have a MRI brain scanning and complete some questionnaires about memory, ability to learn, and behavior.

If you are interested in learning more about this study or would like to participate, please call 608.262.9609  or email us at

PIs: Peter Ferrazzano, MD and Andrew Alexander, PhD
Keywords: Child Development, Brain Imaging

The Effects of Video Game Learning on the Brain in Adolescents with Autism


The Motor and Brain Development Lab at the Waisman Center is recruiting high-functioning adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (14-17 years old) from the Madison, WI area for a research study that looks at brain and behavior changes after learning skills from playing video games.

  • Participants will complete a 1.5-2.5 hour intake assessment and a 1-hour MRI brain scan, while parents answer questions about their child. The intake assessment will include an abbreviated IQ assessment, an autism diagnostic assessment (asking questions and doing activities with books and pictures), and a standardized motor assessment (asking your child to do activities like drawing, playing with balls, hopping, sorting objects, doing sit ups, and balancing).
  • Then, participants will come to the Waisman Center for six weeks to play Wii and Kinect video games.
  • After the six weeks, participants will complete a 1-hour end-of-study assessment and another 1-hour MRI brain scan.
  • Families will be compensated $50/ MRI scan and $10/hour for their participation (up to $315). 

Interested in helping us better understand video game learning and brain changes in autism? Contact Brittany Travers at (608) 263-0282 or for more information.

PI: Brittany Travers, PhD
Keywords: Motor Development, Autism, Brain Imaging