Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if my child is interested in participating? 

Please enter your email on the participation page. A staff member will contact you shortly after.


Is my child’s  participation and are the findings of the studies confidential?

Any data that may be published in scientific journals will not reveal the identity of the subjects. The use of data acquired during the child’s participation in this project will be limited to research and educational purposes only.


What is the compensation for an MRI scan? 

Your child will receive a $50 check for each MRI scan in the mail 2-3 weeks after the scan, as well as pictures of his or her brain to take home on the day of the scan.  Your child will also receive compensation for other visits, including assessments,  and these will be explained to you for each study before you sign the consent form.


What is an MRI scan? 

The Stanford Math Project uses both MRI and fMRI scans. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique most commonly used to visualize the internal structure and function of the body. The MRI takes structural pictures of the brain. Functional MRI (fMRI) is a type of MRI scan. It measures blood-flow response related to neural activity in the brain.  There is no radiation in MRI scans.  We do not use any medication and there are no injections for our research scans.  See Brain Imaging and Preparing for Your Scan for more detailed information.


Who cannot be scanned? 

If the child has any history of head or eye injury involving metal fragments, implanted electrical device (such as a cardiac pacemaker), or severe heart disease (including susceptibility to arrhythmias), the child should not have an MR scan. If the child has had eye surgery to remove metal fragments from the globe (eyeball), then the child should not have an MRI scan.  Also, children with orthodontic braces, a palatal expander (butterfly) or with claustrophobia should not be scanned.


How long does the scan take? 

The child will be in the scanner for about 1.5 hours. He or she may solve math problems or respond to other tasks on a screen by pushing buttons on a button box,  and he or she may watch short videos in the scanner, so your child will be busy the entire time. We schedule a 3 hour appointment to allow enough time for you to fill out the consent forms and for your child to practice the scanner tasks on a laptop computer before entering the scanner suite.


Will I get any feedback about my child’s scan? 

Since this scan is for research purposes, we are unfortunately unable to offer any individual feedback. You will not receive any results from the scan. You will however recieve a printed picture of your brain for educational purposes.


Will you be able to tell me if something looks wrong during the scan? 

If anyone identifies anything unusual in the scan, they consult the Lucas Center for Imaging staff. If Lucas Center staff determines there is cause for concern, a research assistant will contact your child’s physician, who would then inform you of the abnormality. It is extremely rare that an abnormality is detected. Additionally, our scans are for research purposes and are at a lower resolution than is typically used for clinical scans, and are not designed for detecting abnormalities.


Are MRIs safe? 

An MRI scan is a safe, FDA-approved, non-invasive procedure. Since 2005, over 400 children have safely completed MRI scans for the Brain Development Project.


Where can I read more about MRI? 

You can read more about MRI scans at the Radiology Info Organization website by clicking here. (Informacion sobre MRI (RMN, o Resonancia Magnetica nuclear) en espanol tambien aqui.)  This website offers a comprehensive description of MRI scans. Please keep in mind that the Stanford Math Project does not use x-rays, radiation, injections, contrast material, or sedation of any kind.


Are there any side effects of MRI? 

The most common side effects reported are dizziness, heat sensations, and claustrophobia. These side effects generally go away shortly after the scan.


If my child is uncomfortable, can you stop the scan? 

Yes. The child is able to communicate with us throughout the entire scan. Your child holds a small squeeze-ball during the scan that can be squeezed at any time. If the ball is squeezed, we will stop the scan and check in with your child immediately.
We strongly encourage you to watch the “Preparing for your MRI scan” video clip on our website with your child prior to the scan appointment. The video walks your child through the entire scan appointment, so your child will be familiar with the scanning procedure.  We also encourage you to have your child practice lying still for 5 minutes, and to listen to the MRI Sounds from the link on our website.


What should my child wear to the scan? 

Most children wear everyday clothing to the scan, such as sweatpants or jeans, and a t-shirt or long-sleeved shirt.
The researchers will thoroughly look over your child for the presence of any metal before entering the magnet suite and decide if your child needs to change into the Lucas Center-provided pants and gowns. Please note that all loose metal must be removed before the scan. This includes glasses, jewelry, watches, hair clips, bobby pins, etc. If your child has had recent orthodontic work or piercings done, please give us a call. We may need to reschedule or cancel the appointment.


What is the tutoring for the Math Fundamentals Study like?

Tutoring may be scheduled at our office in Palo Alto, at a library in San Jose, or at the San Carlos Library.  We are also able to tutor in San Fransisco and nearby areas.  The tutoring is 3 times a week after school for four consecutive weeks.  Most sessions are one hour, but the first two sessions and the last session after the second scan may be about 90 minutes.  The child works one on one with a tutor and they do math tasks and play number games on a computer.  The tutoring is the same for all children; it is training on understanding quantity which is designed to help children who have math disabilities.  Even children who are very good at math usually enjoy the training, but it is in the Fundamentals of Math; they will not be learning multiplication or division or any advanced math.