What to expect when you participate in one of our studies


Thank you for considering to participate in our one of our experiments.  We are currently recruiting cognitively healthy younger (18-30yrs) and older (>60ys) adults for three broad classes of experimentation:

Experiment 1: Eyetracking & behavioral studies

These experiments usually last somewhere between 1 and 1.5 hours.  Participants are reimbursed $12/hr for a single hour session and $20 for a 1.5 hour session. We have a variety of experiments of this sort described in the overview below. We  typically schedule these experiments from Mon to Wed in Ritter Annex at Temple University.

Experiment 2: Transcranial direct current (tDCS) investigations of memory, cognition, and language

This experiment is conducted over three consecutive days. Each session will last about 1.5 hours. Participants are reimbursed $20/hr for each session (about 1.5 hours each) for a total of $60 over three days. A summary of tDCS appears below. We schedule these experiments M-W in Ritter Annex at Temple University. Participants must be available over three days for 1.5 to 2 hr. sessions each day. We will do our best to work around your schedule.  This experiment involves very precise measurement of your eye movements along with some low voltage stimulation of your brain. There are some conditions that make testing difficult. To take part in this study you must fulfill these criteria: 

  1. You have no history of epilepsy.

  2. You are not taking medication for depression or anxiety (e.g., antidepressants, benzodiazepenes)

  3. You have no history of injury to your eyes.

  4. English is your native language

  5. You have normal or corrected normal hearing and vision.

  6. You are right handed.

Experiment 3: Naming in healthy older adults

This experiment involves a two-year commitment.  We visit you or you will visit the lab 8 times over the course of 2 years. During each session we will track your eye movements and conduct simple measures of memory and processing speed.  Adults in this study will be serving as controls for our language treatment in Alzheimer's Disease. Participants are reimbursed $20 per session with a $5 transportation stipend.

Step 1:  Informed consent and your rights as a research participant 

Before committing to the study, we ask that you read over the informed consent form for your particular experiment.  These forms explain what the study's scientific purpose is. They also detail your rights as a research participant, including data confidentiality and your right to withdraw from the research at any time.  There are two possible consent forms to choose from. If you are enrolling in our tDCS brain stimulation study, read this document.  If you are participating in one of our eyetracking or behavioral studies, read this document.

Step 2: Hearing & Vision Screening

For all participants we screen for vision and hearing acuity.  This involves reading a standard (Snellen) eyechart and successfully hearing and identifying 'beeps' known as pure tones. Most of are experiments require some combination of hearing words and tracking eye movements. If you suspect a hearing loss or have had some kind of ocular trauma we need to find another set of experiments for you.

Step 3:  Demographics

We need to know a bit about you so that we can evaluate the impact of individual difference (e.g., sex, age) on our experimental results.  We will ask you to fill out the following  simple demographic questionnaire, and this information will be kept confidential in a locked file cabinet.

Behavioral studies: What to expect...

We conduct a range of behavioral research, some using simple timed paper-and-pencil tasks. For most of these experiments we collect reaction times and response accuracies using a computer program called Eprime.

We often record your voice and will sometimes film you. We use this information to glean very accurate measurements of your responses and to have multiple raters score your responses.

Our 120Hz remote eyetracker. The infrared bar is evident at the bottom of the monitor.

Our 120Hz remote eyetracker. The infrared bar is evident at the bottom of the monitor.


Eyetracking studies: What to expect

We measure when and where you look to certain parts of objects or read certain words using an infrared eyetracker.

This machine tracks where you are looking and how large your pupils are at a rate of 120x/second using an infrared (invisible) light that bounces off the back of your retina and is measured with the eyebar (below the monitor).  You won't feel a thing.

If you take part in eyetracking, you will be asked to remain as still as possible. Our eyetracker hates mascara and hard contact lenses, so please don't wear either if you are doing one of these experiments.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS): What to expect

Soterix 4x1 tDCS stimulation unit with anodal and cathodal cables and electrode pads

Soterix 4x1 tDCS stimulation unit with anodal and cathodal cables and electrode pads

Here's what our tDCS unit looks like. It is powered by two 9-volt batteries. The unit itself has a stepdown transformer that reduces the applied current to 2mA (2/1000 of 1 Ampere). For an idea of this current strength, a standard electrical 110v outlet delivers a current about 15 amperes. 

tDCS delivers a VERY weak current. It feels much like a mosquito at first, and most people habituate to the tingling sensation within a minute or two. The black electrode paddles deliver the current (direct current +/-) over focal parts of your scalp. The goal is to stimulate the underlying cortical structures in a particular way. The paddles form a circuit. 

Amelia (our lab coordinator) getting 'sponged' by our postdoctoral fellow, Richard Binney.

Amelia (our lab coordinator) getting 'sponged' by our postdoctoral fellow, Richard Binney.

There current is delivered through a series of sponges that are positioned over key brain regions using a method known as the 10/20 system. We use caps that are landmarked to this anatomical system. The sponges are dampened with saline solution. Note that going to a club or scheduling your dream date right after this experiment might not be the best idea.

Amelia is ready for stimulation!

Amelia is ready for stimulation!

Here's our research participant ready to be stimulated. Here's how this works... We typically do some brief pre-testing where we track eye movements. We then administer the electrical current for 20 minutes as you listen to music and relax.  

After about 15 minutes of the stimulation, we conduct eyetracking and/or behavioral tests just like those described above.We then send you on your way.  There are many good resources for learning about tDCS, and our staff would be happy to answer any questions or concerns that you might have.

Ready to sign up for an experiment?

Please complete the form below, and we will contact you to set up a time to come in.

Name *
I am most interested in: *
Are you interested in course credit for Language & Brain @ Temple University *
Do I qualify for these studies? *
There are some conditions that make testing difficult using our equipment. You can take part in this set of studies if: 1) You have no history of ocular (eye) trauma or ocular convergence problems; 2) No history of brain injury; 2) No known history of learning or reading disability; 3) Normal or corrected normal vision; 4) Normal hearing; 5) English is your dominant language; 6) You have no history of epilepsy.
Your responsibilities as a participant *
1) Read the informed consent form in advance and come prepared with questions; 2) Come to your assigned appointment on time; 3) Do not wear mascara or hard contact lenses.