Thanks for learning more about our lab, what we do, and how you can get involved!
Our studies focus on understanding early brain development - how our brain grows, and how that growth can be impacted by things like nutrition, the environment, and our genes. As a result, our studies often involve collecting a variety of information about your infant or child as well as you and the rest of the family. A central part of our research involves using magnetic resonance imaging (or MRI) to take detailed images of your child’s brain. MRI allows us to visualise the brain’s shape and size, as well as investigate it’s functional and structural connections. We often get a number of questions about MRI, so we’ve posted some of them below. In addition to MRI, we also play games with your child to understand their motor, language, memory, vision, and other skills. We may also collect height and weight information, assess body composition and metabolic rate, and ask questions about their diet or sleep routine. All of this information is handled confidentially and will not be shared without your explicit consent. You can learn more about our specific studies here, or feel free to contact us to learn more or ask any questions.
Where Can You Find Us?
We’re located on the Brown University Campus, 3rd Floor Arnold Biological Laboratory, 91 Waterman Street, Providence, RI.
MRI visits occur at 555 Prospect Street, Pawtucket, RI.
We can always be reached by phone at: (401) 338-6943.
A Typical Visit to the Lab
Some Frequently Asked Questions about MRI:
IS MRI LIKE AN X-RAY OR CT-SCAN?
No, X-rays and CT scans use ionizing radiation to create an image. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) does not use ionizing radiation. Instead, MRI uses a strong static magnetic field and radio-waves (similar to those of an FM radio) to make images of the brain. There is no known health effect associated with strong static magnetic fields.
IS MRI SAFE?
There is a lot of incorrect information regarding MRI safety on the internet. After 30 years of clinical and research imaging, no peer-reviewed study has shown any short or long-term negative effect associated with MRI. The FDA considers MRI to be a safe risk when performed within specified parameters. Our study meets all of these safety measures.
BUT AREN’T MRI’S ARE LOUD?
MRI scanners built for adults can be very loud, reaching more than 140 decibels, or dB (almost as loud as a rock concert). Through the use of sound proofing and special sequence design, we have reduced this to less than 60dB - the same as casual conversation - for our study. To reduce noise further, we use noise-attenuating head phones specially designed for infants and toddlers. As a result, infants can sleep through the scan and you can easily carry on a conversation even in the scanning room.
CAN I SEE THE SCANNER FACILITY, AND MEET THE RESEARCH TEAM BEFORE DECIDING TO PARTICIPATE?
Absolutely! We can arrange an information session during which you can tour the facility, see the scanner, meet members of the team, and get a better idea of how the study is run. You can also ask questions. If you decide to participate, we will go through the consent form with you and arrange a convenient time for the scan.
WHY DO YOU IMAGE MY INFANT WHILE THEY ARE SLEEPING?
Just as taking pictures of a moving object causes blurry photos, moving during an MR scan also causes blurry images. By imaging children (under 4 years of age) while they sleep, we can be sure they will stay still for the whole scan. For older children who can stay still, we can scan them while they watch a movie.
DO YOU USE SEDATION TO PUT MY CHILD TO SLEEP?
No! We schedule scans during normal nap or sleep time. We have private rooms where you and your child can relax and fall asleep. Once asleep, we will move your child into the scanner.
CAN I BE IN THE SCANNER ROOM DURING THE SCAN?
Absolutely! As long as you have no metal implants, pacemaker, etc., we encourage you to be in the scanner room along with your infant. At least one member of the research team will also be in the room.
WHAT IF I WANT TO STOP?
You can stop at any time. If you are uncomfortable before or during the scan, just alert us and we will stop everything.