The Brain Imaging Research Center (BIRC) conducts several research studies in which functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is used to determine areas of the brain that are activated during different behavioral tasks.  Most of our research studies require participants to complete questionnaires, interviews, and an MRI brain scan.  The length of participation and amount of compensation varies between studies.  If you would like to participate please read about our individual studies to see if you are interested.

If you would like more information on mental  health services offered at the PRI, see Clinical Care or call the Walker Family Clinic at 501-526-8200.

A Risk Factor Analysis of Human Brain States Related to the Development of Addiction

The goal of this study is to understand how stress and drug use or non-use is related and to understand how this affects the brain. We are looking for teenage girls and adult women to participate in this study.

For adolescents, participation involves 2 separate visits. The participant and a parent will be asked to come to the Brain Imaging Research Center at UAMS. Both adolescent and their parent will complete a series of interviews and questionnaires. Some of the questions we ask will be about how the adolescent has been feeling, if they have ever been in a stressful or abusive situation, and about any drug use. This visit takes about 4 hours to complete. Following this first visit the adolescent will come back one more time to complete the MRI scan. The MRI scan takes about 1 ½ hours to complete. Finally, we will contact the adolescent 3 separate times by phone over a 9 month period to ask about any drug use since the last visit. All information that we collect throughout the study is kept confidential. Also, we do not tell parents about any drug use the adolescent reports to us.

Both adolescent and parent participants will be compensated for their time.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Female
  • Ages 12-16
  • Medically healthy
  • No internal metals
  • Must have a parent able to stay for each visit

Please contact Jan Hollenberg at 501-526-8321 or JAHollenberg@uams.edu for more information

For adults, participation involves 2 separate visits. The participant will be asked to come to the Brain Imaging Research Center at UAMS. They will complete a series of interviews and questionnaires. Some of the questions we ask will be about how the adolescent has been feeling, if they have ever been in a stressful or abusive situation, and about any drug use. This visit takes about 4 hours to complete. Following this first visit the adolescent will come back one more time to complete the MRI scan. The MRI scan takes about 1 ½ hours to complete.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Female
  • Ages 25-40
  • Medically healthy
  • No internal metals
  • Must have started using drugs between age 12-16 years
  • Must have abused at least 2 drugs at some point during your life

Please contact Jonathan Young at 526-8339 or JAYoung@uams.edu for more information.

Real-time fMRI and Neurofeedback of Brain Networks Mediating Trauma Memory Recall in PTSD

The purpose of this study is to identify how the brain performs while recalling stressful or traumatic experiences. Participants in this study would be asked to complete interviews and questionnaires and an MRI scan. Participation would involve completion of interviews and questionnaires related to possible history of trauma, mental health history, and physical health history, and completion of an MRI scan. Participation would require two 3-hour visits to UAMS, taking ~6 hours to complete. Compensation will be provided.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Female
  • 21-50 years of age
  • With our without a history of physical or sexual assault
  • No internal metal
  • No major medical conditions

Please contact Sonet Smitherman at 526-8386 or SMSmitherman@uams.edu for more information.

Family Decision-Making and Adolescent PTSD

The purpose of the present study is to compare patterns of family cooperative behavior between assaulted and non-assaulted adolescent girls and identify the impact of family cooperative behavior on brain representations of trust among the adolescents. Participation in the study will occur over a 6-month period, with 4 visits to UAMS. Participants will be asked to complete interviews and questionnaires related to their trauma history, current and past psychological history, and family behaviors, play a decision-making game with other members of their family, and complete an MRI scan. Total time for participating is ~10 hours over a 6-month period. Compensation will be provided for both the child and their parents/caregivers.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Female
  • 11-17 years of age
  • No internal metal
  • No major medical condition
  • With or without a history of physical or sexual assault
  • 2 caregivers available to participate

Please contact Sonet Smitherman at 526-8386 or SMSmitherman@uams.edu for more information.

An fMRI Study of the Impact of Stress on Drug Addiction

Drug addiction can be a chronically relapsing disorder, affecting the lives of millions of people. The purpose of this study is to learn how decision making and impulsivity are related to cocaine addiction. This study will compare healthy non-drug users to those that use crack or cocaine in order to determine how these groups differ on decision-making and impulsivity.

Study participation involves a couple visits to the Brain Imaging Research Center at UAMS. On the first visit, a research staff member will interview you about any drug use and other possible disorders. Then you will fill out some questionnaires. This visit will last 3 hours. For the second visit, we will use an MRI machine to take pictures of your brain activity while you play in one or two simple computer games. In one games, you will be making decisions and trying to earn extra money. The other game will measure how impulsive you are by having you press or not press a button depending on what you see on the screen. This visit lasts about 1 ½ hours.

Participants will be compensated for their time.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Female
  • Ages 18-50
  • Cocaine use within last year
  • Medically healthy
  • No internal metals

Please contact Jonathan Young at 501-526-8339 or jayoung@uams.edu for more information.

Neural Substrates of Suicide Precipitants in Acutely Suicidal Depressed Patients

The purpose of this study is to identify the underlying neurobiological substrates of choice impulsivity and physical and psychological pain processing abnormalities associated with suicidal behavior and ideation. At the conclusion of this study, we will have provided a novel and significant understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms of suicidality, disambiguated from that of typically comorbid depression.Participants undergo clinical interviews, clinical rating scales, assessment of physical pain threshold, and functional brain imaging during a total of 3-5 hours.

Participants will be compensated for their time.

We are currently recruiting adults (18-60) from both genders from the inpatient, outpatient services and the community within the following categories: a) depressed patients after a recent high lethality suicide attempt, b) depressed patients with current suicidal ideation, c) non-suicidal depressed patients, and d) healthy controls (15 per group).

Please contact Jonathan Young at 501-526-8339 or jayoung@uams.edu for more information.

A Pilot Study on the Trajectory of Cocaine Addiction

The purpose of this research is to study the path of drug use across a period of two months in adult cocaine users.

Study participation involves three visits to the Brain Imaging Research Center at UAMS. At the first visit participants will be asked to complete questionnaires and interviews about their background, psychological functioning, recent life experiences, and drug use history. The first visit takes about 3 hours to complete. One month and two months following the first visit, participants will be asked to come back in to complete a few more questionnaires. These visits will take about 1-2 hours each.

Participants will be compensated for their time.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Male or Female
  • Ages 18-50
  • Good general health
  • Crack or cocaine use within the past 30 days

Please contact Jonathan Young at 501-526-8339 or jayoung@uams.edu for more information.

Psychiatric Illness and Postpartum Maternal Sensitivity and Motivation for Offspring

The quality of maternal care received early in life is a major determinant of a child’s wellbeing and success in life. Some psychiatric issues, such as depression or drug use, are thought to interfere with a mother’s ability to provide care for her child. Researchers at the Brain Imaging Research Center and in the Women’s Mental Health Program are conducting a pilot study to develop computer tasks that will determine how psychiatric illness influences maternal behavior in the early postpartum period.

We are currently recruiting mothers who have given birth within the last eight weeks and fall into one of the three following categories:

  • have major depression,
  • have opiate dependence, or
  • don’t have major depression or drug use disorders

Study participants will be asked to submit a urine sample and complete interviews and questionnaires related to their mental health, drug use, recent life events and feelings about motherhood. They will also be asked to complete computer tasks of attention and decision making and to give a brief interview afterwards to inform us on how the tasks can be improved. Completion of all study procedures requires only one visit to the Psychiatric Research Institute that is expected to last 3-4 hours. Participants will be compensated for their time and bus fare or parking costs.

Please contact Dr. Lisa Brents at 501-413-6058 or LBRENTS@uams.edu for more information.