Volunteer for a Study

We are presently recruiting participants for our research aimed at increasing our understanding of the cognitive and neural processes underlying typical and atypical development. As such, much of our work focuses on the development of cognitive abilities in children with neurodevelopmental disorders (primarily autism but also other disorders such as phenylketonuria). The research is being conducted by Dr. Shawn Christ at the University of Missouri’s Clinical Neuropsychology Laboratory and with colleagues at the University of Missouri's Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Our goal is to expand our knowledge and understanding of neurodevelopmental disorders by studying basic skills such as attention and memory in these individuals.

Who may participate?

All children, adolescents, and adults who are 6 years of age and older are invited to participate. Participation is open to both individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and individuals without neurodevelopmental disorders.

What will I (my child) be doing and how long will it take?

At present, we have two research opportunities available. You and your family are welcome to participate in one of the following studies:

In the first study, individuals with and without PKU (phenylketonuria) will be asked to complete several tests of cognitive skills as well as look at pictures and push buttons while an MRI brain-imaging camera is used to measure the anatomy and activity of their brains. (The MRI scanner is very safe and does not involve any injections or radiation.) Participation takes approximately 4½ hours and participants will receive monetary compensation for their time and effort.

In the second study, individuals with ASD and sensory hypersensitivity and individuals with ASD and no history of sensory problems will be asked to look at pictures, listen to sounds, and feel air puffs while an MRI brain-imaging camera is used to measure the anatomy and activity of their brains. (The MRI scanner is very safe and does not involve any injections or radiation.) To help prepare for this visit, participants will be given a book, "My Day at the Brain Imaging Center" and sounds from the scanner to help acclimate them to this environment. If interested, families can also request a copy of their child's brain images for their own records. Participation takes approximately 1 ½ hours and participants will receive monetary compensation for their time and effort.

What are the benefits of participating?

By participating, you (and your child) are making a contribution to our understanding of neurodevelopmental disorders and how they can affect the developing brain. This research is a vital step in the development of more effective teaching strategies for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Please consider helping us with our efforts. If you and/or your child(ren) would like to participate, please fill out the form below or feel free to contact us directly [Emily Abbene, Research Coordinator, Email: Abbenee@missouri.edu; Phone: 573-884-8109]. Thank you!