Research participants needed for brain imaging study

This research explores how people locate objects when they move through the environment, and also how the brain processes spatial information that is used for this purpose. We are studying people with Williams syndrome, a developmental disorder resulting from the deletion of ~25 genes. People with Williams syndrome have great difficulties with spatial tasks, and we are conducting this study to learn more about their spatial deficit. In any study of a special population, it is important to have typically developing control participants so we can also observe the processes of the healthy brain. Thus, we are contacting you!

This study involves two parts:

  1. A session in our lab on the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus, where participants will complete a task that involves searching for hidden objects. For matching purposes, we will conduct a few oral questionnaires that we also conduct with our Williams syndrome participants. This visit takes under 2 hours.

  2. A brain imaging session at the Johns Hopkins Medical School where we will record brain activity while the participant is looking at pictures such as scenes with spatial information, objects, and people's faces. The brain imaging session (fMRI, or functional magnetic resonance imaging) is very much like an MRI that you would have if you broke a bone, etc. However, in this case, we record images of the brain while the participant is looking at pictures, in order to determine which areas of the brain respond most strongly to the visual content of the pictures. The participant's task is to lie still in the scanner and simply view a series of pictures as they are projected onto a screen. fMRI is a noninvasive brain imaging technique, and we will do a safety screening before we enroll you in the fMRI study to make sure everything runs safely. This entire visit would also take under 2 hours. We will also send you a copy of your brain image by email after the session!

If you would like to learn more about the study, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Katrina Ferrara, M. A. Graduate Student Department of Cognitive Science email: