Complete List of Studies Currently Recruiting

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

Binaural Hearing and Speech Lab


Recruiting typically developing children 7-12 years of age who meet the following criteria: Native English speakers, normal hearing, no history of recurring ear infections, and pressure equalization (PE) tubes. To find out more visit the website: or contact Shelly Godar, MA, CCC-A at 608.262.7483 or

PI: Ruth Litovsky, PhD
Keywords: Infant & Child Development, Speech and Language Development

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

Child Development Research


We are looking for families with children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years to participate in studies about how infants and children learn language and come to understand the social world. We would love to have your help in this process, and it is a great opportunity to learn more about how your child thinks and learns!

Study participation involves a one-time visit to the Infant Learning Lab or the Social Kids Lab at the Waisman Center with your child. A visit takes approximately 30 minutes, and a study itself takes between 5 and 15 minutes. You will be with your child for the entire session.

Infants who participate will sit on your lab during the study, and will listen to sounds and view images on a computer monitor. Older children will view images on a computer or in a book, and be asked simple questions.

Sessions can be scheduled at your convenience, and evening and weekend appointments are available. Families will receive a thank you gift for participating, and we provide free parking and free childcare for siblings.

If you are interested in learning more about our research and possibly participating, please fill out this simple online form and we'll be in touch soon!

Additionally, please feel free to share this invitation with anyone you know who may be interested! This research has been approved by the University of Wisconsin IRB and is part of the research program of the Waisman Center under the direction of Dr. Jenny Saffran and Dr. Kristin Shutts.

Thank you, The Social Kids Lab Team (608-263-5853) The Infant Learning Lab Team (608-263-5876)

PIs: Jenny Saffran, PhD, Kristin Shutts, PhD
Keywords: Infant & Child Development

Child Emotion Lab Studies


Research projects in the Child Emotion Lab are focused on children's emotional development and the relationship between early life experiences and children's mental health. We are particularly interested in understanding two related aspects of emotional development:

  • What are the mechanisms of normal emotional development? To what extent are emotions shaped by nature and nurture? Does it make sense to try to separate biology and experience?
  • How are emotions related to the development of mental health problems? Might the development of emotional processes help explain the link between early life experiences and later development of psychological difficulties such as anxiety and depression?

We invite families with children ages 9-17 to participate in our studies.
Please contact us at 608.890.2525 or for more information

PI: Seth Pollak, PhD
Keywords: Infant and Child Development 

Expressive Language Sampling in Down Syndrome


PURPOSE: To learn more about how spoken language samples can be used to measure change over time in the spoken language, problem solving, and behavior of individuals with genetic syndromes. In the future it is possible that measures of spoken language production may be useful as one way to learn whether different medications can help individuals with genetic syndromes to learn and use language more effectively. 

WHO: We are looking for boys and girls aged 6 to 23 years with Down Syndrome.

WHAT:  This is a longitudinal study which means we will ask you and your child to visit the Waisman Center three times over a 2-year time period.  At each visit, we will collect a language sample in three different ways; a conversation, looking at a picture book, and participating in a series of interactive activities with an examiner.  Additionally, we will ask you, the parent/guardian to fill out some questionnaires and participate in an interview about your child’s everyday living skills. You will be paid $50 for each visit as well as reimbursed for any traveling costs. 

Please contact our study coordinator, Susen Schroeder, for information at 608.263.5145 or

Principal Investigator: Audra Sterling, PhD
Keywords: Down Syndrome, Speech and Language Development

Family Outcomes and Autism Spectrum Disorder


PURPOSE: To: 1) examine the well-being and marital quality of parents of children with autism (or autism spectrum disorder) and 2) examine family factors that impact the well-being of children with autism.

WHO: We are looking for parents of children aged 5 to 12 years with autism. Both spouses participate in the study.

WHAT: The study involves a 2-hour session at the Waisman Center or your home to complete questionnaires. We will also videotape you and your spouse having a conversation.  You and your spouse will then complete a 14-day diary in which you answer questions about your day (takes 5-10 mins per day). You and your spouse will each be paid $125.

For more information, please contact the Hartley Lab at 608.262.8860 or, (

Principal Investigator: Sigan Hartley, PhD
Keywords: Autism, Parents, Marital Quality

Feeding Intervention Study for Children with Autism and Feeding Challenges


You may qualify for an intervention research study for families with children with autism spectrum disorders and feeding challenges.  We are piloting an intervention for children (ages 2 to 7 years) with autism that would attempt to address your child’s specific feeding challenges primarily in your home environment. Your child will receive direct intervention and you as a primary caregiver would participate in training sessions and delivering the intervention in your home for approximately 5 to 7 hours per week over six months. Two to three assessment session will also occur at the Waisman Center. In appreciation, you will receive a $100 for completing the research study. If you withdraw from the study, you will receive $50.00.  If you are interested please contact Karla Ausderau at University of Wisconsin-Madison at or 608-262-0653.

Eligibility Criteria:  
* Inclusion criteria: Parents of a child, ages 2-7 years, with a current autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis and feeding problems. Parent must live in the same household with the child at least 50% of the time, speak English, and live in Wisconsin.  
* Exclusion criteria: If the child that is the focus of the study has an associated condition (e.g., tuberous sclerosis, fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome; blindness; deafness, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injury, brain malformation) the family may be excluded. 

PI: Karla Ausderau, PhD
Keywords: Autism

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

Infant Learning Lab


There are several projects examining the learning processes underlie that acquisition of words, one's native language, and music. Infants ages 6 to 30 months are needed.

PI: Jenny Saffran, PhD
Keywords: Infant and Child Development, Speech and Language Development

Leisure Activity in Adults with Intellectual Disability


We are looking for adults with intellectual disability over the age of 30 years and their caregivers to participate in a study that will help us understand how leisure activity predicts healthy aging and well-being for adults with intellectual disability.

The study involves a 1.5-hour visit to the Waisman Center, your home, or disability center.  Both of you will complete questions about the leisure activity and well-being of the adult with intellectual disability.  You will also complete a 7-day daily diary together in which you will answer a short list of questions each day (takes 5-10 minutes per day).  You will each be paid $10 for participating.

If you are interested in being in this study or have any questions, please contact Iulia Mihaila at or (608)262-8860.

PI: Sigan Hartley, PhD
Keywords: Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Parenting and Language Learning in Young Children with Down Syndrome


If you have a child with Down syndrome between 2 and 5 years of age, you and your family are invited to participate in a research study conducted by Dr. Audra Sterling at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin – Madison.

The purpose of this study is to learn more about the relationships among parenting, social interactions, and language learning in children with Down syndrome. 

If you decide that you and your family would like to participate in this study, we will ask you to complete questionnaires related to your child’s development and daily behaviors, as well as your marital relationship and overall health.  We will come to your home and record your family as you interact during different daily activities, such as during making a snack together, playing and reading a story.  During our visit, we will also complete developmental assessments through interacting with your child.  Additionally, we will request that you use our audio recording device to record 1-2 evenings for three hours before bedtime.   Your family will be compensated $50 for your time.

If you are interested in this study or would like to learn more, please call the Study Coordinator at (608)263-5145 or email

PI: Audra Sterling, PhD
Keywords: Down Syndrome, Family Studies, Parents, Speech and Language Development

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

Social Kids Lab


We study how children navigate the social world. Several ongoing studies address the development of social categories and preferences. We currently have studies for infants, preschoolers, and school-aged children. For more information, call 608.263.5853, email us at or visit

PI: Kristin Shutts, PhD
Keywords: Infant and Child Development

Social and Behavioral Development Lab


The Social and Behavioral Development Lab is currently seeking families to participate in our study who have children with or without behavior and/or attention problems who:

  • Are entering or have just completed kindergarten
  • Are fluent in English
  • Live with at least one biological parent
  • Have not been previously diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or intellectual disability

What does participation involve?

Eligible families will visit our lab at the Waisman Center at UW-Madison to engage in the following activities:


  • Clinical interview about your child’s behavior and emotional functioning
  • Questionnaires and ratings scales about your child’s behavior at home and at school


  • IQ and cognitive tests
  • Interactive activities on the computer

Parent and Child:

  • Videotaped parent-child play activity
  • Saliva samples for DNA analysis

What are the benefits?

You will receive:

  • No direct benefits (i.e., we provide no clinical diagnosis or treatment)
  • A written summary of your child's cognitive and behavioral functioning
  • $40 for your full participation
  • Your child will get a toy prize!

If you are interested in learning more about our research or have any other questions, please email us at or call us at 608-263-5854.

PI: James Li, PhD
Keywords:  Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Infant and Child Development

Speech Development Study


Our current research study examines speech characteristics in young children. We are recruiting typically developing children between the ages of 2 ½ and 7 years to participate.

The information we gather from your child will be used to determine how intelligible the speech of typically developing children is at different ages.  We will use recordings of your child’s speech to help establish expectations for typical speech development.  This information will be compared to the same data obtained from a group of children with cerebral palsy, to help us understand the differences in speech characteristics between the two groups.

If you decide to have your child participate in this research he or she will be evaluated at the Waisman Center in a special sound room. Your child’s participation will last between 30 and 60 minutes and will be 1 session. During the session, your child will participate in several play-based activities designed to elicit speech. Your child will receive a small toy of his or her choice for participating and you will be paid $10.  In addition, you will complete a few short questionnaires about your child’s behavior and development.

For questions or additional information, please call (608) 262-2967 or email us at

To enroll your child in this study, go to:

PI: Katherine Hustad, PhD
Keywords: Speech and Language Development, Infant and Child Development 

Speech and Sound Reflection Study


The Vocal Tract Development Laboratory at the Waisman Center, directed by Dr. Houri K. Vorperian, is currently recruiting individuals of all ages to participate in a speech and sound reflection study. The lab is interested in characterizing the development of the mouth and throat structures in typically developing individuals and individuals with Down syndrome. The purpose of the lab's research is to understand how changes in the anatomy of the mouth and throat affect the production of speech sounds.

This current study includes a hearing screening and having your voice recorded while repeating sounds, words, and sentences. Eligible participants may also be asked to breathe into a tube. The tube makes clicking noises to measure the inside of the mouth and throat. Participants with recent head or neck imaging (CT or MRI scans) are highly desired, but those without imaging may still
participate. Compensation is provided for participation. Study duration is 30-60 minutes.

You can view this study's consent form as well as an informational flyer here:

Please contact the Vocal Tract Lab at 608.263.5610 or email if you have any questions or would like to schedule a visit.

PI: Houri K. Vorperian, PhD
Keywords: Down Syndrome, Infant and Child Development

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

Toddler Study - Cochlear Implants


Spatial hearing, or sound localization, refers to our ability to determine where sounds originate in our environment. In the Binaural Hearing and Speech Lab (PI: Ruth Litovsky), we are studying the development of spatial hearing in young children who use cochlear implants. We are currently recruiting children under the age of 3 years who use unilateral or bilateral cochlear implants to participate in our studies. Children should have a history of severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss bilaterally at birth or within the first few months of life, be native English speakers, and have at least 6 months of experience with their device.

To determine if your child is eligible for this study, or if you would like more information, please contact Shelly Godar at or call 608.262.7483.

PI: Ruth Litovsky, PhD
Keywords: Cochlear Implants, Hearing Impairment, Speech and Language Development

Wisconsin Twin Project


Headed by Professor Hill Goldsmith, the Wisconsin Twin Project (WTP) is a panel of all twins born in Wisconsin after 1989. Goals of this study include understanding behavioral adaptation and challenges, such as coping and fearfulness. How does the pattern of similarities and differences between twins change over time. Other themes include sensory experiences, relationships, and general social-emotional development through late adolescence and early adulthood.

Contact us toll free at 866.230.2560 or e-mail,

PI: Hill Goldsmith, PhD
Keywords: Infant and Child Development, Twins