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Neurocomputational Mechanisms of Affiliation and Personality Study (NeuroMAP):

Thank you for your interest in our research. We are currently recruiting participants for a longitudinal study examining brain changes and personality development in young adults. This investigation involves up to five visits to the UNC-Chapel Hill campus to complete a series of interviews, computer tasks, and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.  Given the current pandemic, we are running most of the visits online, though some need to be completed in person. Participants will be compensated up to $240 for their time. If you are interested and you meet our eligibility requirements, please fill out our screening survey to participate!

An individual seeking to participate in the lab’s NeuroMAP study must be 18-25 years old, commit to up to 5 visits, complete a series of interviews, surveys, and computer tasks, and complete an MRI brain scan and a 12-month follow-up interview.


  • We will ask you questions about your personality style (how you typically think, feel, and behave) and about any emotional difficulties you are currently experiencing or have experienced throughout your lifetime.
  • You would also complete questionnaires and play computer games focusing on your personality, emotion regulation, and how you cope with stress.
  • Finally, we will ask you to participate in an MRI scan. We want to know how young adults’ brains respond to different kinds of pictures, such as faces and words. You will look at these pictures on the computer screen and press buttons to make decisions about them. During these tasks, we will measure the structure and function of your brain using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), which is a low-risk, noninvasive imaging technique.
  • There are no known risks associated with the MRI scan, except for individuals with metal implants, pacemakers, or any non-removable metal in or on the body. Screening precautions are taken to ensure that any person entering the MR environment is safe to be scanned.
  • MRI is a noninvasive imaging technique, meaning that you will not be injected with any materials if you participate in this research study and there are no known harmful side effects. We will provide more information about the MRI scan if you participate in this study.
  • If you have braces, metal orthodontic devices, clips, nonremovable piercings, or other metal in or on the body that cannot be removed, you will not be able to participate in the MRI scan.
During an MRI scan, a person lies down inside a large magnet (the MRI scanner) while pictures of the brain’s structure and function are taken. These pictures are created by shifting the direction of the magnetic field and measuring the absorption and emission of energy that results from changing the electromagnetic field inside the scanner. A more detailed description is provided here:
Most people experience little to no stress in the MRI environment. If you choose to participate, we will ask you try out the MRI environment in a practice scanner and will teach you to stay still. You can decide to stop participating in the study anytime without penalty.
All participants will be compensated for their time with payments at each visit.
Your first two appointments will take place remotely. Your third, fourth, and fifth appointments will take place at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill campus.
If you’re interested in participating, please fill out our screening survey. If you have any questions or concerns about your participation in our study, you can contact us at for more information.

What should I wear on scan day?

  • Make sure to wear comfortable clothes. It is important that your clothes have no metallic parts such as a zipper, snap, or rhinestone. You can sweatpants or even pajamas! Also, make sure that you have no makeup on and remove all of your jewelry. If you usually wear glasses, bring your prescription with you so we can give you glasses that are safe to wear in the MRI scanner. If you would like, we can also give you a blanket to keep you warm.

What does taking a picture of your brain feel like?

  • Taking a picture of your brain is safe and painless. You will lie on the little bed with a blanket and pillow. The MRI scanner makes loud noises, but we give you ear plugs so that the noises are not too loud. It’s just really important that you stay very still so that your pictures come out clearly!

What will I do while you take pictures of my brain?

  • Inside the MRI scanner, you will have a video screen and controller to play computer games. You’ll learn how to play the game before we take the pictures of your brain. If you like, we’ll give you a picture of your brain that you can take home with you!

How can I make sure to get a good brain picture?

  • There are many ways to practice for your MRI scan. The first thing that we suggest is watching this video: It tells you all about MRI scans and shows a person who completes a scan. This will give you a good sense of what participating in an MRI study is like.Picture
The picture on the left shows an MRI image from someone who moved, whereas the person depicted on the right stayed still.
  • ​After you watch the video, you can pretend you’re lying inside the scanner and staying very still. Have you ever taken a picture of someone running or jumping? The picture comes out blurry. The MRI scanner works the same way.
  • ​To practice at home, you could lie in your bed at night before you go to sleep and practice not moving. Or you could lie on the couch while you’re watching TV and practice being very still.

Will I get to practice inside the MRI scanner before the study?

  • Yes, you get to practice beforehand. We have a practice scanner that looks exactly like the real one and it makes the same sounds. This will help you get used to being inside the MRI scanner. Remember, you can always ask us any questions at any time!