Girl BAND Study

Scroll down to learn more about the study itself and further information about study components, like MRI and fNIRS scans

About Girl BAND Study

The Girl BAND (Behavior And Neuro-Development) study is an NIH-funded research project aimed to increase our understanding of the brain during a critical time of a child’s growth. Information learned from this research can ultimately contribute to an increased understanding of learning, behavior, and emotion facilitating the development of intervention services/therapies.    

Participation Involves: 

For Child:

  1. Comprehensive cognitive and behavioral evaluation
  2. MRI and NIRS Scan (Safe, non-invasive, no x-rays/radiation

For Parent: 

  1. In person interviews and online questionnaires 

Potential Benefits:

  1. Summary report with results and discussion of the comprehensive cognitive testing
  2. Summary report on psychological function
  3. Annual follow-up to track progress over the 5-year period of the study
  4. Honorarium of $100 for each assessment
  5. First access to results of the study
  6. Interaction with experts in child psychiatry and psychology if questions arise or referral is needed



About MRI and fNIRS

What is MRI and how does it work?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The MRI machine is like a big, donut-shaped magnet. The magnet coils emit harmless radio waves. You can’t see, hear, or feel radio waves, but while the MRI machine is on these radio waves will be bouncing off the different substances that make up your brain. A computer detects how the waves bounce back and transforms that information into a picture of your brain.

There are two kinds of MRI. Structural MRI provides detailed pictures of your brain’s shape and size. Functional MRI (fMRI) provides information about which parts of your brain are active when you think about certain subjects or perform certain tasks, like reading. Different parts of your brain have different roles to play. For example, one part of your brain processes the sounds you hear and a totally different part allows you to wave your arm. Yet another part helps you to remember the name of a friend. If the study you are a part of uses fMRI, you might be asked to look at pictures or play simple games with a handheld clicker while you are in the MRI machine. Then researchers can see which parts of your brain are active during the task they ask you to perform.

How do researchers use MRI images?

Researchers use MRI images to see different brain structures in great detail. fMRI images help us understand which parts of the brain are active during different tasks. Other kinds of imaging, like x-rays, aren’t useful for research because x-rays don’t provide the kind of detailed information we need.

Once we have an MRI image of your brain, one of the things we might do is compare it to MRI images of other kids like you who have volunteered for our study. Everyone’s brain is a little different, and understanding how your brain might be similar to or different from other people’s brains helps us understand what makes you unique. 

What is fNIRS and how does it work?

fNIRS stands for Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy. Near-Infrared light is a kind of light that appears red, just like a stoplight. During the fNIRS scan, you will wear a cap that contains small emitters, which shine red light on your scalp, and detectors, which detect how much of the light from the emitters bounces back after running into your brain. Computers combine information from the emitters and the detectors in a way that tells the researcher which parts of your brain are active during different activities.

How do researchers use the information that they get from fNIRS scans? 

Like fMRI, fNIRS provides information to researchers about which areas of the brain are active during certain tasks. Once we have a record of your fNIRS scan, one of the things we might do is compare your fNIRS data to the fNIRS data of other participants in our study. This will help us better understand how the brain works.