Call for Study Volunteers

The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute offers a range of opportunities for participating in research studies aimed at improving our understanding of the human brain. These studies, all of which are compensated, take place in the Institute's state-of-the-art facility at 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke, Virginia. For some studies, participation is also possible in the Institute's Blacksburg facility (Building 26 of the Corporate Research Center, at 2270 Kraft Drive).

Many of these studies involve functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, a noninvasive technique that does not cause discomfort. Unlike x-rays and CT scans, fMRI does not involve exposure to any radioactive material. Visit What is fMRI? to learn more. For other details about participating in these studies, visit Frequently Asked Questions about Volunteering.

A sampling of studies appears below. To schedule an appointment or to learn more, please use the contact information provided below for the specific study or studies in which you are interested in participating.


Behavioral economic demand of e-cigarettes as a function of flavor and nicotine absorption

The purpose of this study is to help us learn more about the features of electronic cigarettes that influence economic purchasing decisions. We are currently recruiting participants, between the ages of 18 and 65 years of age, who use both electronic and conventional cigarettes.

Participation includes:

  • 6 to 10 sessions lasting approximately 1.5 hours, depending on extent of participation
  • Screening questions
  • Blood draws to measure plasma nicotine content
  • Smoking tasks
  • Participants will receive from $200 to $335 in compensation, depending on the extent of participation

This is not a treatment study. Pregnant females are excluded.
All information is confidential

Call 540-818-0664 or screen online at http://j.mp/2eez4J0, if interested.


Baby Children with Hemiparesis Arm and Hand Movement Project (CHAMP) Study

This is a research study comparing three highly promising forms of therapy for infants and toddlers who have a diagnosis of hemiparetic cerebral palsy. Children who meet study eligibility criteria at one of the two clinical sites - Roanoke, Virginia, and Columbus, Ohio - will be invited to enroll.

  • Participation involves:
    • Assessment of each child prior to treatment, close monitoring of the child's progress during treatment, and post-evaluation at the end of therapy, as well as 6 and 12 months later.
    • Questions for parents about their thoughts and feelings concerning the therapy condition that they and their children are experiencing.
  • No charge for therapy provided.
  • Child must be between 6 and 24 months old
  • Child must have a medical diagnosis of cerebral palsy
  • Child must have a significant impairment in the use of an upper extremity
  • Child must be able to communicate basic needs and interact in a playful way with a familiar adult
  • Child must have one or both parents who are willing to participate in learning how to provide at-home therapy activities that will involve one hour a day over a four-week period

For more information, visit http://labs.vtc.vt.edu/nmrc or call Dr. Stephanie DeLuca in Roanoke at 540-526-2098 or Dr. Andrew Persch in Columbus at 614-685-9217.


Children with Hemiparesis Arm and Hand Movement Project (CHAMP) Study

This is a research study comparing the efficacy of alternative therapies for young children with unilateral spastic cerebral palsy, also known as hemiparetic cerebral palsy. Children who meet study eligibility criteria at one of the three clinical sites - Roanoke, Virginia; Charlottesville, Virginia; and Columbus, Ohio - will be invited to enroll.

  • Participation involves:
    • Assessment of each child prior to treatment, close monitoring of the child's progress during treatment, and post-evaluation at the end of therapy, as well as 6 and 12 months later.
    • Questions for parents about their thoughts and feelings concerning the therapy condition that they and their children are experiencing.
  • No charge for therapy provided.
  • Child must be between 2 and 8 years old (up to ninth birthday)
  • Child must have a neuromotor impairment that mostly affects one side of the body.
  • Child must have cerebral palsy or an acquired brain injury prior to the age of two.
  • Child must be able to participate in four weeks of therapy.

For more information, visit http://labs.vtc.vt.edu/nmrc or call Dr. Stephanie DeLuca in Roanoke at 540-526-2098 or Dr. Andrew Persch in Columbus at 614-685-9217 or Jodi Darring in Charlottesville at 434-982-3808.


Do you use cocaine? Paid volunteers needed (VTCRI)

Volunteers at least 18 years of age are needed for a 2-visit decision-making research study involving brain imaging at the Addiction Recovery Research Center. The first session will last about 4 hours. The second session will last about 2 hours and involve an MRI. This is not a treatment study.

All of your information will be kept confidential. You will be paid between $10 and $200, depending on how much you participate, and receive a CD copy of your brain images for study completion.

Please complete the screening process online at https://redcap.vtc.vt.edu/surveys/?s=MLmDRcVtPz. For more information about this study or if you prefer to complete the screening process over the phone, please call (540) 315-0205.

Principal Investigators: Warren K. Bickel, Ph.D. & Read Montague, Ph.D. Protocol #: VT-IRB-11-183

Location: Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, 2 Riverside Circle Roanoke, VA 24016


Experimental Heavy Drinking Treatment Study

The purpose of this study is to assess the effectiveness of using a breathalyzer to facilitate an intervention to reduce alcohol use that requires no in-person contact between the participants and the study staff during the intervention phase.

Participation includes:

  • 7 to 8 sessions over the course of 6 months, depending on the extent of participation. This includes consecutive 21 days for an experimental period.
  • Participants will receive compensation up to:
    • $286 for participation to offset time and effort
    • $50 bonus for completing all study requirements
    • An additional $275 based on performance within the study
    • Additional travel compensation to Roanoke may also be provided
  • Must be between 18 and 65 years of age
  • Currently recruiting people who drink alcohol and would like to cut down or quit.
  • Participants must also be willing to provide a $75 deposit, which can be partially funded by study earnings.

If you are interested in participating, please call (540) 818-0664 or screen online at http://j.mp/2eez4J0.


Episodic future thinking and real-time fMRI

This is a research study aiming to assess your imagination skills inside an fMRI scanner. We will ask you to complete several computerized tasks and a few computerized survey questionnaires. An example of the computerized task might ask you to choose between delayed and immediate imagined amounts of money. For example, you may be asked to choose between $1000 in a month’s time or $500 right now.

You will also be asked to come up with future or current events during a short interview. For example, “Describe what you would do with $100 in 6 months” or “Describe something you do with $50 today.” You will also complete several tasks while in an fMRI scanner that will last approximately one hour. You will be asked to try to imagine yourself in different situations.

  • Compensation is up to $80 for a 3-hour session
  • Participation involves:
  • Decision making tasks
  • Imagination skills tasks
  • fMRI brain scan – you’ll receive a CD with images of your brain to take home!
  • This is not a treatment study
  • Pregnant females are not eligible
  • All information is confidential
  • Travel compensation to Roanoke may be provided
  • If you qualify, total compensation based on extent of participation in the study
  • Must be between 21 and 65 years of age
  • Participants may be invited for repeated sessions

If you are interested in participating, please contact a representative at (540) 315-0205 or at arrc@vtc.vt.edu. You may also complete an online screening at http://j.mp/2eez4J0.


Functional MRI Study of Traumatic Experiences Among Veterans

The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute is currently recruiting OEF/OIF veterans for research studies. These studies use functional MRI to understand how deployment can impact the biology of the brain. Why participate? Deployment experiences can have a profound impact on the lives and well-being of the people who experience them. While the effects can be a tremendous burden both for those experiencing the difficulties and for their loved ones, little is known about the causes and treatments of deployment-related difficulties. For this study, we are interested in veterans who either have or have not experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or traumatic brain injury.

Contact vets@vtc.vt.edu or 540-526-2091


Human Neuroimaging Laboratory—General Recruitment

The Human Neuroimaging Laboratory accepts volunteers interested in being added to the general recruitment pool for a range of studies related to human cognition and decision-making.

Eligibility: Healthy adults aged 18 to 64

Primary goal: To advance human brain research through behavioral and fMRI studies

Institute sponsor: Human Neuroimaging Laboratory

Compensation: varies by study

Visit Subject Sign Up, email us at signup@vtc.vt.edu, or call 540-526-2034


Human Neuroimaging Laboratory—Roanoke Brain Study

The Roanoke Brain Study is a partnership between the greater Roanoke Valley community and leading scientists to explore the cognitive, behavioral, and genetic factors that affect human decision-making. The study combines novel approaches in functional brain imaging, computational psychiatry, and genetics to study features of decision behavior and how those behaviors change in people over the course of their lives. The aim is to create a global information resource for scientists, physicians, patients, and policy makers seeking insight into processes of decision-making to facilitate healthier lives. The primary task will be an fMRI scan, a non-invasive imaging tool that allows us to capture images of the brain and its activity while volunteers view images, play games, or interact with other people. Volunteers may also be asked to provide a small DNA sample, fill out questionnaires, play simple games on the computer, or interact with other people inside or outside the MRI scanner.

Eligibility: Healthy adults aged 18 to 85

Compensation: Approximately $100

Primary goal: To understand how genes and environment contribute to brain strategies for decision-making in all aspects of life.

Institute sponsor: Human Neuroimaging Laboratory

Study timeframe: Ongoing

To volunteer: Visit Roanoke Brain Study for more information.

Volunteers may sign up for the Roanoke site or the Blacksburg site


Human Neuroimaging Laboratory—Smoking Study

The Human Neuroimaging Laboratory is recruiting volunteers for a study involving cigarette smokers. If eligible, there may be a total of four visits involving fMRI, questionnaires, and saliva samples.

Eligibility: Adults aged 18 to 65 who smoke at least 10 cigarettes per day

Primary goal: To investigate how the brain processes decisions and rewards and how those processes are different in smokers and non-smokers

Institute sponsor: Human Neuroimaging Laboratory

Compensation: $20-$600, dependent upon study participation

To volunteer: Visit Subject Sign Up, email us at signup@vtc.vt.edu, or call 540-526-2034


International Quit & Recovery Registry

By tapping the insights and experiences of people who are in recovery from an addiction—whether to tobacco, alcohol, drugs, or a harmful behavior—the International Quit & Recovery Registry seeks to further scientific understanding of recovery and to inspire those struggling with addiction. Participation in the registry involves an online registration process, which includes a brief questionnaire about the individual's recovery process. Participants are also encouraged to share their success stories.

Visit International Quit & Recovery Registry


MRI Research Study on Adolescents

Volunteers are needed for a neuroimaging study to better understand how the adolescent brain makes decisions.

Who is eligible? People who:

  • Are between 15 and 17 years old
  • Are not claustrophobic
  • Do not have permanent metal implants
  • Can commit to participating in Roanoke, Virginia

Participants will:

  • Participate fill out questionnaires
  • Play computer games during MRI scans
  • Receive a copy of their brain scan
  • Be compensated $70-110 for participating

If you meet the above requirements and are interested in participating, contact Brennan Delattre at 540-526-2068 or participate@vtc.vt.edu. Please include "Adolescent Study" in the subject line.


Narrative theory and eyeblink

We are looking for volunteers 21 – 65 years of age to participate in a one-session research study who drink alcohol. This is a research study aiming to examine decision-making and eyeblink rates in individuals who drink alcohol. Compensation ranges from $10 - $60 based on extent of participation
Participation involves:
Eyeblink measurements
Computerized assessments
Questions on alcohol & drug use
Participation involves 1 session lasting between 2.5 – 3.5 hours
This is not a treatment study
All information is confidential
Travel compensation to Roanoke may be provided
If you qualify, total compensation based on extent of participation in the study
Must be 21-65 years of age
Pregnant females will be excluded

If you are interested in participating, please contact a representative at (540) 315-0205 or at arrc@vtc.vt.edu. You may also complete an online screening at http://j.mp/2eez4J0.


Neural Correlates of Choices for Impulsive HIV-risk Behavior in Stimulant Dependence

The purpose of this study is aiming to understand factors that related to risky sexual decision making. We are currently recruiting participants, between the ages of 18 and 65, who use stimulant drugs such as cocaine.

Participation includes:
Consists of 3 to 4 sessions
Risky choice questions Computer tasks
Urine sample
Functional MRI brain scan
Compensation from $120 to $150, depending on extent of participation
* May receive optional CD of brain images

Participants must not have claustrophobia; have a history of brain injury; have metal implants; be pregnant; or have unmanaged psychiatric disorders.
This is not a treatment study.
Information is strictly confidential.

Please call 540-818-0664 or screen online at http://j.mp/2eez4J0, if interested.


Participate in a research study about decision making using TMS

This is a research study aiming to assess the effects of transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) on decision-making and craving in obese individuals. What is TMS? TMS is a non-invasive procedure involving magnetic pulses to stimulate regions of your brain. TMS is safe and FDA approved. No medication or anesthesia required. TMS is a minimal risk procedure.

If you qualify, participation involves:

  • Transcranial magnetic brain stimulation
  • Computerized assessments
  • MRI scans
  • Eye-blink measurements
  • Food consumption
  • Participation involves 6 sessions
  • Each Session last 1-3 hours
  • Compensation ranges from $30 to $320 based on extent of participation
  • This is not a treatment study
  • All information is confidential
  • Travel Compensation to Roanoke may be provided
  • Must be 18-55 years of age
  • Must be eligible for fMRI scanning and brain stimulation
  • Pregnant females will be excluded

If you are interested in participating, please contact a representative at (540) 315-0205 or at arrc@vtc.vt.edu. You may also complete an online screening at http://j.mp/2eez4J0.


Ongoing Studies