Information for Parents

What will my child do during a research study?

Our lab conducts many different studies, so the specific activities might vary a bit. In general, you can expect your child to:

  • Answer questions about their thoughts , feelings and experiences
  • Play games that involve looking at pictures of different situations and telling us about their reactions to them
  • Have their heart rate measured in response to certain situations. Sometimes we will use an MRI scanner to take measurements of your child’s brain, so that we can learn how it responds to different situations. None of these procedures are invasive or painful, and most children enjoy them. 

What is it like to have an MRI scan?

For many kids, the experience is quite fun.  These articles provide information about how kids respond to having an MRI if you’re interested in learning more: Thomason 2009, Holland 2014

We will make sure that your child is comfortable every step of the way (and they can stop anytime they want to).  We also give kids and teens an opportunity to practice staying still in a mock scanner if they have any anxiety about getting an MRI. There are no known risks to having an MRI scan—it is a non-invasive method that does not involve radiation or injection of contrast agents. We follow safety procedures to minimize any other kind of risks—for example, that is why we ask whether your child has any metal in their body.  If you would like to find out more about the experience of having an MRI scan, you can watch this short video here.

How do I know if my child is eligible?

We conduct many different studies, so your child might be eligible for some of them, but not for others. For example, if your child has braces or other kinds of metal in their body, they might not be able to take part in an MRI study. However, they may be able to participate in studies that involve playing games on a computer. We can give you more details about each study and discuss eligibility if you give us a call at (206) 543-5183 or send us an email at

Does my child get anything for participating?

Children and teens are compensated with cash for their time, and we provide parents/guardians with free parking and incentives for transportation costs.  Children and teens also gain valuable knowledge about the developing brain.

Do I need to come to with my child to your lab?

We prefer that a parent or guardian accompanies the child to the study. However, in some cases that might not be necessary—we can discuss this and obtain your permission on the phone.

How does trauma influence brain development in children? 

Many of the studies in our lab seek to understand this question.  Click here to see what we have learned so far about how trauma influences brain development in children.