Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

Information for Parents

  • Is your child struggling with reading?
  • Does your child have difficulty at school or home in reading or learning to read?

Our lab offers studies that examine how different learners learn how to read and look at the neurobiology behind this with the use of MRI brain scans. Our participants range in age from 8 -17 years old and have reading problems and/or a diagnosed reading disability. Although there is no direct benefit to you or your child for participating in our studies, we hope through our research to gather data that will lead to better teaching in the future.

What to Expect From Your Visit

Once you’ve checked in with Julie, you and your child will go through the consenting process with a member of our team. This ensures that everyone, including your child, is aware of what study participation entails. Then you will be asked to fill out some paperwork while your child begins testing.

After that, you will have plenty of time to yourself, as testing usually goes with minimal breaks for about three hours at a time. We ask that you stay at Vanderbilt University, just in case something should arise that we need you for. You should bring something to keep you busy while you wait, which might include a laptop (we have free wireless) or a book to read.

If you prefer to buy lunch while visiting Vanderbilt University, you can go to The Commons or Iris Café both located nearby on Peabody Campus or McDonald’s across 21st Avenue at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.


What is fMRI?

fMRI stands for functional magnetic resonance imaging. The MRI uses a large magnet to take pictures of activity in your brain. The machine looks like a large cylinder with a table inside for you to lie on. During the MRI you are asked to lie very still so that we get a clear picture. You will also be asked to play a computer task while you are lying in the MRI machine.
This is a completely non-invasive procedure. There will be no contrast, needles, or injections.

Will it Hurt?

The MRI will not hurt. You will be asked to lie on a soft table and remain as still as possible. You will have a pillow under your head, and a blanket is available if you get cold.

Can I Eat Before My Appointment?

Yes, you can eat before you come, but try not to drink too much.

What Should I Wear?

On the day of your scan, please wear comfortable clothes. The MRI uses a very large magnet, so be aware of how much metal you have on your clothes. Snaps and zippers on pants are fine, but please make sure that your shirts and sweaters are free of metal.

Please do not wear shirts or sweatshirts with hoods, and please do not wear any jewelry. Do not wear any metal barrettes in your hair, and be sure to remove earrings and any other body piercings if possible.

For more information visit the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science.

Tools For Parents

We have made some tools for parents to help acclimate their children to the MRI scanner. You can find these tools on this page .

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