MRI Study of Stress and Social Support


Are parents or others able to buffer children and teens from stress?

The purpose of this study is to measure the brain response to common forms of stress in children and adolescents, like taking a timed exam or giving a speech. We are interested in whether the presence of a parent or another person can reduce the body’s biological reaction to these common stressors.

We are currently recruiting youths for two 2-2.5 hour visits at the University of Minnesota. The first visit is completed online over Zoom. For the second visit, participants will complete an MRI scan during which they will give a short speech and perform some math problems. We will measure heart rate during the MRI and collect saliva samples to measure stress hormones. Some participants will be randomly chosen to have their parent present. The parent will sit with the participant on a video call to provide social support.

Seeking typically developing youths who meet the following criteria:

  • 11 to 14 years old
  • Speaks English and have never done the speech/math task
  • No braces or non-removal metal

Participants and parents will be compensated for their time. Free parking is provided.

For more information about this research study, email us at or call 612-524-8708.

This study is conducted by Dr. Kathleen Thomas and Dr. Megan Gunnar at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota with a research support grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).