What Should I Expect During My Visit?‌

We are so excited that you are interested in participating in our research studies! Our research studies typically require 1-4 visits to the University of Miami campus in Coral Gables. 

Research Study Visits

If it seems that you are eligible to participate, we may schedule you to come in for one of our research studies. We have a variety of studies, and we will discuss which would be best for you. Some studies involve interviews, computer tasks, monitoring psychophysiology, and an MRI scan. Some of the tasks are completed on separate days.

To help you get a better idea of what to expect during these visits, here is a break-down of each type of visit.


For some, the first visit to our lab at the University of Miami will be an in-person assessment. This assessment lasts approximately 1 hours and will help determine your eligibility for our studies. During this visit, you will meet with one of our team members, who will ask you questions about your medical and psychiatric history. You will also answer questions about yourself on the computer/ipad. Both the interview and the questionnaires help us to learn a little more about you. Personal information disclosed on any visit will remain confidential, unless safety concerns arise. We also may ask you some vocabulary words and have you do some math puzzles.

Computer Tasks

computer tasksWhat will I do?
Most of our research studies involve one or more computer tasks. 

During these tasks, you may hear sounds and/or see various objects, letters, and/or pictures displayed on the computer screen. Some of our research tasks require that you make responses using the keyboard, a mouse or a button box (which is kind of like a video game controller).

Will I get breaks?
We know that sometimes these sorts of tasks can get tiring, but donít worry - we will give you short breaks throughout your visit!


sc2What is psychophysiology?‌

Many of our studies also investigate the relationship between your body's reactions (physiology) and your brain's responses (psychology).

How do you monitor my body's responses?
Specifically, we collect measures of your heart rate, skin conductance, eye blink response, and respiration. To do this, we attach sensors to different parts of your body (e.g., collarbone, wrists, fingers and under your eye) and place a belt around your waist.

Attaching these sensors usually takes our research team members around 10-15 minutes in total, during which we may also clean small areas of your skin where we are attaching the sensors so we can get good measurements.

In our studies, we monitor your physiology as you relax or do certain computer tasks.

When you are finished with your visits, we will help you remove the sensors and clean up any gel that the sensors may have left behind.

What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI?

mock scanner imageSome of our studies involve a neuroimaging scan in the MRI machine. The MRI machine allows us to take pictures of your brain. 

How does the MRI work?

MRI scans take lots of different types of pictures of your brain. Sometimes, we can see the structure of your brain. Sometimes, we can see how your brain functions. During functional MRI, the scanner takes pictures of your brain by measuring changes in blood flow related to different brain activity - this basically helps us see which parts of your brain are working when you do a particular task.

The MRI machine does not involve x-rays; there is no radiation involved. 

The MRI machine is nothing to be afraid of - however, because it involves a strong magnet, we have many precautions in place to keep all of our participants safe. For example, participants with metal (e.g., pacemakers, metal surgical pins, braces, permanent retainers) anywhere in their bodies may not be permitted in the scanner.

What should I expect during a visit involving an MRI scan?

MRI machines have a bed that slides into the donut-shaped hole in the machine. When you have your MRI scan, you will lie down on that bed and put your head into a special helmet (see picture) that will help us take pictures of your brain. This helmet also has a mirror that will help you see when you complete computer tasks during your scan. When you are ready, we will slide the bed into the machine until just your legs are sticking out.

It is really important to hold still when you are doing an MRI scan. If you donít the pictures we take of your brain will be blurry -and no one likes a blurry photo!

During the MRI, we will be in the room next door, where we can see you through a window and you can talk to us at any time. We will check in with you periodically to see how you are doing, but if you feel uncomfortable or need our immediate attention at any time, just squeeze the ball and we will stop the scan and see what you need.

What will I see and hear during the MRI visit?

While you are in the scanner, you will be able to see a screen by looking through a mirror on the helmet. Sometimes, we will show you a movie. Sometimes, we will ask you to do one of the computer tasks we described earlier. Regardless, while you are in the MRI you will hear different sounds. Listen to these examples: 

These sounds are loud but are nothing to worry about. We will give you earplugs or a set of headphones to block out some of the noise, but please let us know if you feel uncomfortable at any point.

How long is the MRI scan?

It takes a while to take all the different types of pictures of your brain. Typically, it takes an hour, but sometimes less. After we are done, we will let you know that the MRI is over, and help you get out of the scanner.