Virginia Tech® home

Volunteer in a Research Study: Help Understand How Feelings Affect Decisions

Brain research study at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute

Are you feeling down or blue?
Have you lost interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy?
Do you worry most of the time?

If these questions describe you, please call to see if you qualify to participate in a brain imaging study at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC located at 2 Riverside Circle, Roanoke, Virginia.

The Chiu Lab is conducting a research study to understand how feelings related to depression or anxiety may affect how the brain makes decisions. By looking at a person’s brain while they play computer games, we can begin to understand how they might make decisions in real life and what brain functions are used in the process. The study is also interested in how behavioral training or psychotherapy may impact decision-making.

This study is expected to take place intially across multiple weeks. Participants will engage in interview/questionnaire sessions (2-3 hours) and scanning sessions (1-2 hours) at two different time points (first and last session). Participants will make choices between two stimuli while undergoing a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan (fMRI), which is a way to take pictures of the brain’s activity. While in the fMRI scanner, participants will be asked to play simple computer games by responding to pictures on the computer screen and using button response boxes held in their hands. MRI is a standard non-invasive scanning procedure that is FDA approved.

Apart from the fMRI and interview sessions, study procedures include randomly assigned participation in behavioral training (across 4 weeks) or psychotherapy (across 12 weeks) for up to 12 sessions. The study team may also collect biological samples from participants. These samples may include urine, breath, and/or saliva samples. Additionally, participants may be invited for three follow-up sessions that are scheduled three, six and twelve months after these initial study procedures are complete.

Participation also includes:

  • Being compensated $20/hour and having an opportunity to earn up to an additional $15 based on performance in the games
  • Travel time will be compensated
  • An opportunity to receive an MRI brain scan
  • An opportunity to receive a CD and a printed image of your brain

You may be eligible to participate if you:

  • Are 25-50 years old
  • Are NOT claustrophobic
  • Do NOT have any metal implants (e.g. pacemakers, cochlear implants, spinal fusion)
  • Have NOT had a head injury (e.g. loss of consciousness exceeding ten minutes, TBI)

Interested in learning more? 

Please contact us today to see if you qualify. You can complete a simple form to express your interest in this study. You'll be contacted soon by one of our research coordinators. 


Or call or email if you have questions. Thank you.

Contact Us