Participate in Research

We are looking for healthy pregnant women to participate in our new study exploring the Relationships of Parent-Infant Social, Emotional and Brian Development (RISE). Help us learn more about how everyday stress impacts mental and emotional demands related to pregnancy and parenting in mothers and how newborns' bodies and brains develop. After you look through our information about our study and MRI technology, please contact us if you have questions or would like to participate.

Individuals on the Denver campus.

What Does the Study Consist of?

Participation in the study consists of four total home/lab or virtual visits. The four visits include one visit during your third trimester and three postnatal visits—two within a few weeks after your baby is born, and last one when your child is one year old.

One of the postnatal visits will be in our lab scanner center in Boulder, Colorado within a few weeks of your child being born. There we will get images of your brain and your baby's brain. Your baby will sleep in the scanner naturally and you will be awake during your scan.

Transportation and childcare are available for all visits.

Who Can Participate?

Anyone 18–40 years old who is healthy, has no non-removable metal in or on their body, is 27–36 weeks pregnant (does not have to be first pregnancy) and meets other eligibility criteria explained over the phone.

Will I Be Compensated?

Yes! You could get compensated up to $740 for your participation in our RISE project.

How Do I Learn More?

Email us at or give us a call at 303-871-3096. We will do a short screening with you over the phone to see if you are a good fit for the study.

Denver campus.

What is MRI?

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner is essentially a big, fancy camera. What makes it special is that it can take pictures of the inside of the body. Instead of using radiation to form an image (as with X-rays), MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves. Both magnetic field and radio wave exposure is safe for most people, unless they have metallic implants or devices.

  • What are MRI Images?

    Your head is full of tiny "radio transmitters". In an MRI unit, these little radios can be made to broadcast their positions and the MRI unit picks up on these "radio frequencies" to give a detailed picture of the inside of your head. 

  • Infant Scans

    Before infants are placed into the scanner, a researcher will go over the consent form with you. During this time infants are free to play with toys or play with a researcher or anyone you decide to bring along with you on the scanning day.

    Once the consent form is finished, infants will fall asleep naturally in the scanner room, which will be made dark to help facilitate sleep. A fake scanner made of wood is available for viewing for both parents and infants prior to the scan.

    Before entering the MRI scanner, infants and their guardians will be screened for any metal. Once cleared, infants will stay asleep in the scanner for up to 45 minutes. Infants will be given noise protective earbuds and headphones while in the scanner. In addition, a foam barrier will be placed over your infant to dramatically minimize noise from the scanner. While in the scanner, a research assistant will be with your infant the entire time to make sure they are safe and asleep.

  • Mother Scans

    First, a researcher will go over the consent form with you. A fake scanner made of wood is available for viewing prior to the scan. Mothers who participate in our study will be put into the scanner awake.

    Before entering the MRI scanner, mothers will be screened for any metal. Mothers who participate will lie in the scanner awake for up to 80 minutes. Mothers will be given noise protective earbuds and headphones while in the scanner. Researchers will be able to hear and speak to the mothers using a microphone. Also, mothers will be given an emergency button to push in case anything happens.

Learn More About the RISE Project

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is MRI safe?

    The Food and Drug Administration reports that there are no know harmful side effects associated with MRI scans. Both magnetic field and radio wave exposure is safe for most people, unless they have metallic implants or devices.

  • Is MRI safe for my baby?

    MRI is a safe and non-invasive technique that is commonly used to study the brain in individuals of all ages including infants, children and adults. There is no radiation involved in MRI scans. Instead, the MRI scanner consists of a powerful magnet which attracts certain metallic objects. If your infant has metal pieces in their body, they should not be scanned. Prior to scanning your infant we do a MRI screening form to ensure your infant is safe to enter an MRI. On the day of the scan, we redo this screening to be extra safe and have our MRI technician look over your infant's screening form.

  • Can anyone participate in the MRI portion of your research?

    Participants cannot:

    1. Have any metallic fragments in their body or braces
    2. Be claustrophobic or have a fear of small spaces
    3. Be pregnant at the time of the scan
  • Who gets scanned?

    For participants in the RISE project, both the mother and the child will be scanned.

  • How long does the scanning take?

    We typically schedule three-hour visits so that we have plenty of time to prepare you for the scan and to complete different tasks and questionnaires that are part of the research. The scan itself can take up to 80 minutes.

  • Do you inject any type of contrast or use sedation?

    No. Participants are awake during our MRI scans and they do not require the injection of any contrast dye or sedative.

  • Can I be in the scanning room during the scan with my infant?

    Of course! In fact, we encourage you to be in the room with your infant and prefer it if you can. As long as you are safe to enter the MRI scanner environment and have no metal or devices that may be influenced by the magnetic field, you will be allowed in the scanning room with your infant. We will screen you for these things prior to allowing you to enter. You will be given noise-reducing earbuds while in the scanning room.

  • Why do you place my infant in the scanner while they are sleeping? Can't you just scan them awake?

    When you take a picture of a moving car, flying bird or any other moving object, the picture ends up blurry. The same idea applies to moving during an MRI scan; movement causes very blurry images. By imaging infants while they sleep, we can be sure they will stay still for the whole scan. Staying still for such an extended period of time would be otherwise almost impossible for this age group.

  • Aren't MRI scans very loud? How will my infant sleep through the scan?

    MRI scanners can be very loud, reaching around 125 dB, which is equivalent to a balloon popping right next to your ear. Through the use of silicone ear plugs, noise reducing headphones designed for infants and a foam barrier called an acoustic hood that we place into the MRI scanner around your infant, the noise is reduced significantly. By using these noise reducing measures, infants can sleep through the scan without being awoken by the noise.

  • What if I want to stop?

    While in the scanner, you will be given an emergency button and researchers will be able to hear you via microphone. If you are uncomfortable before or during a scan, just alert us and we will stop everything.

  • If you find something concerning on the scan, will you let me know? Can I pass on the images from the scan to my neurologist?

    Because the scans are being done for research, they are not optimized to detect abnormalities. Therefore, the images we retrieve are for non-medical research purposes only.

  • Where are the scans done?

    Our scans are done at the Center for Innovation and Creativity at the University of Colorado Boulder. Transportation can be provided for any participants who need it.

  • Will my information be shared with anyone?

    The information that you provide will be for research purposes only. All records identifying participants will be kept confidential. If we publish or present results of this study, we will not use individual names or other personally identifiable information.

  • Other Questions?

    Feel free to email us at or call us at 303-871-3096.