Information About Current Study
Why are we studying children’s reading and language development in the brain?
We know very little about how reading and language skills develop in children’s brains. Children differ widely from each other in their language and reading skills starting from early years – for some, it’s relatively easy but, for others, it can be difficult for no apparent reason. In this study, we hope to learn how different brain areas are recruited for reading and language development. This information can later be used to develop methods to identify language and reading difficulties for many children. We also hope that it will lead to improved teaching and remediation methods.
How are we gathering information?
We are very interested in how the brain develops as children grow older, so we invite you and your child to participate in our experiment once a year for two years. Each session will take two to three hours and will be conducted at a time that is most convenient for you. It will also be fun and educational for your child.
Why does the study take two years?
As children get older, different changes take place in the brain. This process takes a long time. Moreover, each child’s development is unique. We aim to understand each child’s trajectory as much as possible rather than simply comparing children of different ages. Therefore, we ask you and your child to participate in our experiment once a year for two years. In this way, we are able to examine how different areas of your child's brain get better at working together. We understand that this is a major time committment on your part, and we will work with you to make sure that each session is conducted at a convenient time for you and your child.
What happens during each session?
In this study, we will first complete tasks with your child to assess their language, motor and reading abilities. Then we will let the child explore and practice at a pretend scanner so that s/he feels comfortable with the environment. We will also show your child the kinds of activities that s/he would have to do in the scanner so that s/he feels at ease about the experiment.
Your child then will then participate in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) session. MRI is a standard imaging technique that uses magnetic fields to create images of the brain (For more information on MRI, visit our MRI Information page). During our imaging session, we will play word games with your child and your child will listen to stories. Toward the end of the session, your child will be able to watch a movie that s/he likes or just relax.
We will communicate with her/him throughout the whole experiment to make sure that s/he is comfortable. S/he will be able to alert us through the microphone to any problems and we will be able to help him/her or stop the scan. We give your child plenty of time to get comfortable with the environment and what they have to do so that by the time we are ready to take pictures of his/her brain, s/he will be completely relaxed! Children usually enjoy the scanning sessions and find this opportunity to learn about their brains very exciting. Please see Visit Overview page for detailed information about your visit.
Why should your child participate?
Children who have participated in studies with similar activities seemed to enjoy them very much. Even though there is no direct benefit to you or your child, children do enjoy the positive attention they get throughout the study. Your child will receive a gift card to a bookstore on the day of the scan. S/he will also be receiving $100 for the first session and $125 for the second, and you will be reimbursed for all travel-related expenses.
Most importantly, you will be helping us advance the understanding of children’s language and reading development. Projects such as these depend entirely on the cooperation of parents and children like you and your child. We appreciate your interest in participating in this unique study. Your participation will be informative and helpful for families and scientists interested in reading and language development, and early identification of learning disabilities and improvement of teaching methods.
If you have more questions, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.