The Social Processes Study

Brief Description: 
In this study, we want to learn more about how different experiences influence social processes in adolescents. In addition, we are hoping to learn about how different experiences impact health and emotions, as well as brain development and functioning.
Eligibility for Participation: 
We are currently recruiting right-handed boys between the ages of 13 and 19, as well as their parents. Teens who are 18 or 19 years old can participate without a parent or guardian. Because the study involves an MRI scan, adolescents who have braces, hair extensions, or certain types of metal implants may not be eligible to participate.
Participation Details: 
The study involves one 2.5-3-hour visit to Stress and Development Lab at UW, where we can provide a reimbursement for parking or other transportation. Following this visit is a second session that lasts 2-2.5 hours and involves completing a one-hour MRI at the Integrated Brain Imaging Center at UW. Free parking is provided for this session as well. Each session is fun, and participants receive snacks, and are free to take a break during each of the sessions. We pay a total of $145 for adolescents’ participation in both sessions, and $25 for parents’ participation in the first session.
Full Description: 
We believe that brain development, and the development of certain abilities, might be significantly impacted by experiences in childhood and adolescence. We are particularly interested in how the environment shapes the development of brain areas that are used to understand other people’s intentions and emotions. We expect that children who have experienced more stressful experiences in their lives will have different responses to the study tasks due to the way their brains have developed. We also expect that children who have these different responses will report more difficulties in social situations. We are therefore examining the relationship between different life experiences and the structure and function of certain regions of the brain in adolescents and determining whether disruptions in function are responsible for the onset of mental health and social difficulties in adolescence. In this study, adolescents and their parents will come to the lab and individually fill out some surveys that ask questions about their lives. In addition, we will ask the adolescents to perform some fun tasks. In the second session we will measure a variety of markers of neural structure and function using MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) while the adolescent completes a series of tasks. This study is important because it helps us understand areas of the brain that allow us to understand the thoughts and feelings of other people, and to effectively relate to other people. As you might imagine, being able to understand other people’s thoughts and feelings is very important to our mental and physical health. It’s also important to understand how the environment can affect the way our brain develops so that we can create ways to intervene or prevent the harmful effects of stressful life experiences. This project is funded by the Royalty Research Fund of the University of Washington, The Doris Duke Foundation, and the National Institutes of Mental Health.
Research Contact: 
If your child is interested in participating, please e-mail us at or call (206) 221-9276.
$145 (teen), $25 (parent)
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