Brain Study of Peers, Parents, & Stress

Recruiting 11-14 year old youth

The purpose of this study is to measure the brain response to common forms of stress in children and adolescents, like anticipation of a vaccination or the startle we feel when the fire alarm goes off. We are interested in whether the presence of a parent or a friend 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 complete some tasks matching faces showing different emotions and pressing a button when they see letters while positive, neutral, and negative images are presented. We will measure heart rate during the MRI and collect saliva and hair samples to measure stress hormones. Some participants will be randomly chosen to have their parent or friend present. The parent or friend will sit in the scan room with the participant to provide social support.

Seeking typically developing youths who meet the following criteria:

  • 11 to 14 years old
  • Speaks English
  • No braces or non-removal metal
  • Not on psychotropic or steroid-based medications

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

For more information about how to participate, email us at or call 612-626-8949.

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).