Participate in a Study

The Neuroinformatics and Brain Connectivity (NBC) Laboratory needs your help to better understand how the brain works. We are actively looking for volunteers to participate in some of our ongoing research studies. As a research volunteer you can: be compensated for your time, contribute to scientific discovery, and learn what your brain looks like. Below you can find information about the studies and MRI procedures.

Exploring the Neural Mechanisms of Physics Learning

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Exploring the Neural Mechanisms of Physics Learning project aims to gather and assess evidence of learning and knowledge organization, as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), throughout university-level physics environments. This project was designed to extend the theories and research-base behind Modeling Instruction, a well-established curriculum intervention in physics. With the use of neuroimaging, we can understand how learning-environments drive the functional organization of large scale brain networks in physics students. Our work provides deep insight into the ways in which students learn physics, with implications for other STEM disciplines.


All interested participants should meet the following criteria:

  • Be enrolled in PHY 2048 Physics w/ Calculus I, and in one-of-two sections: U01 or U31
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 22
  • Be right-handed
  • Not have completed a university-level physics class
  • Not have metal in/on body that cannot be removed
  • Not be claustrophobic
  • Not be pregnant

We are actively looking for volunteers to participate that meet the requirements above. For more information, please call 305-348-0464, or send an email to

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Impact of HIV and Cannabis on Brain Function


Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the NIH, this project utilizes fMRI to clarify how HIV infection and cannabis use (both alone and in combination) impact brain function. Lagging behind rapid changes to state laws, societal views, and medical practice is scientific investigation of cannabis’s impact on brain function, especially in patients with HIV/AIDS. We address this knowledge gap by using advanced fMRI techniques to rigorously assess brain activity at the regional, network, and global levels in a sample of adults stratified by HIV-serostatus and cannabis use. Clarifying the impact of HIV infection and cannabis use on the brain is critically important for developing treatments to improve patients’ mental functions, identifying poor candidates for medical marijuana, and providing patients, healthcare providers, and policymakers with scientific information allowing for informed decision-making regarding cannabis use.

You do not need to have HIV or use marijuana/cannabis to be in this study. This study includes people with and without HIV and people who use or don’t use marijuana. Recruitment for this project is coordinated through the Substance Use and HIV Neuropsychology (SUHN) Laboratory at FIU (click here to learn more about participating in this project).



What is MRI and How Does it Work?

Functional MRI, or ‘fMRI’, involves taking pictures (images) of the brain while it is active and working. This is in contrast to ‘structural’ MRI scans, which produce an image of the brain’s shape and appearance. Both types of MRI scans use radio waves and a strong magnetic field to create the images. MRI is safe and painless. There are no known health risks. No injections or radiation is used. Those with claustrophobia may experience anxiety inside the narrow scanner tube. If small spaces make you uncomfortable, you should not volunteer for MRI studies.

If you volunteer, you will be asked to lie inside the tube-shaped MRI machine while remaining as still as possible. The machine will take different pictures (images) of your brain. Sometimes while in the MRI machine, you will different perform thinking tasks. You can communicate with the study team at all times while in the scanner. In general, participants, are in the MRI machine for about 90 minutes. The total participation time, which includes filling out forms and practicing the thinking tasks, typically takes several additional hours.

For more information, please call 305-348-0464, or send an email to