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.



Aging and Memory Study

This research study aims to understand the effect of age on memory in either EEG or fMRI.

  • Must be 65 years of age or older
  • Must complete screening questionnaire to determine eligibility
  • If you qualify, compensation is $20 per hour
  • Location: Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke

Call 540-526-2094 or email seadams9@vtc.vt.edu



Decision-Making in Current Alcohol Users and In-Treatment Alcoholics

This is a research study aiming to assess the effects of memory skills training in current alcohol users and alcoholics in treatment.

  • Compensation is up to $20 for a 1-hour session
  • Participation involves:
  • Computer surveys and assessments
  • Questions about alcohol and drug use
  • Travel compensation to Roanoke may be provided
  • Complete computerized decision-making tasks and answer questions about alcohol use
  • If you qualify, total compensation based on extent of participation in the study
  • Must be between 18 and 65 years of age
  • Must be eligible for fMRI

This is not a treatment study
All information is confidential

Call 540-315-0205 or email ARRC@vtc.vt.edu



Episodic Future Thinking and Smoking

The purpose of this study is to help us learn more about how future imagery affects behavior in order to help understand behaviors associated with nicotine use.

  • Approximately 2 session study
  • Maximum compensation is $80
  • Must be between 18 and 65 years of age
  • Must be a daily cigarette smoker with a current desire to quit smoking

Call 540-315-0205 or email ARRC@vtc.vt.edu



Functional MRI Research Study on Cigarette Smoking

The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute is conducting a brain imaging study on cigarette smokers. Eligible participants must meet the following criteria:

  • Current smokers, age 18-55
  • Smoke at least 5 cigarettes per day
  • Have been smoking for the past year

You will be compensated for your time. Eligible participants typically make $50 for the first session and $30 for the second session, with the potential to earn an additional $75.

We have two locations, Blacksburg and Roanoke, and scheduling is very flexible to best accommodate your schedule.

If interested, please contact Riley Palmer at 540-526-2068 or smoking@vtc.vt.edu for more information.



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



Intertemporal Trade-offs in the Risky Decisions of Cocaine Addicts

This research project seeks to understand, through fMRI, the decision-making processes of individuals who do and do not use cocaine.

  • Two-session study involving brain imaging
  • If you qualify, compensation ranges from $10-$200 based on length of study and extent of participation
  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Must be eligible for fMRI scanning
  • Currently recruiting:
    • Recreational cocaine users
    • Individuals who have never used cocaine

Call 540-315-0205, email ARRC@vtc.vt.edu, or sign up online



MRI Research Study on Depression

Volunteers are needed for a study investigating emotions and brain responses in people who suffer from depression.

Eligible participants will:

  • Receive counseling at no cost
  • Participate in interviews and complete questionnaires
  • Play computer games during magnetic resonance imaging scans
  • Be paid $15/hour or more for participating

To be eligible you must:

  • Be between 18 and 55 years old
  • Have problems with depression
  • Not be taking antidepressants
  • Not have any mental implants
  • Not be claustrophobic

If you meet the above requirements and are interested in participating, contact Cari Rosoff at 540-526-2032 or depression@vtc.vt.edu.



MRI Research Study on the General Population

Volunteers are needed for a neuroimaging study.

Who is eligible? Healthy adults who:

  • Are between 18 and 55 years old
  • Are not claustrophobic
  • Do not have permanent metal implants
  • Can commit to participating in multiple session over the course of several months in Roanoke, Virginia

Participants will:

  • Participate in interview and questionnaires
  • Play computer games during MRI scans
  • Receive a copy of their brain scan
  • Be compensated $15 per hour or more for participating

If you meet the above requirements and are interested in participating, contact Riley Palmer at 540-526-2068 or participate@vtc.vt.edu.



Peer-Mediated Smoking Abstinence

This study is designed to examine monetary and social influences on smoking abstinence.

  • Volunteers ages 18-65
  • Compensation up to $410

Participation involves:

  • Smoking cessation incentives
  • Group therapy sessions
  • Computerized and/or paper-and-pencil assessments

Treatment will be provided at no cost



Poly-Substance Group Comparisons of Episodic Future Thinking (PEPI)

Participants needed for a confidential 2-visit study investigating future thinking.

  • Volunteers ages 18-65.
  • If you qualify, compensation from $30 to $90 based on extent of participation.

Participation involves:

  • Answering questions about future events
  • Surveys and questionnaires
  • Decision making tasks
  • Questions about substance use


The Repair of Self-Control in Alcohol Dependence: Working Memory and Real-Time fMRI: Experiment 1

This is a research study aiming to assess the effects of memory skills training on alcohol users.

  • 30 to 42 session working memory training study
  • If you qualify, compensation ranges from $10 to $34 for sessions that last about 1 hour and $60-$80 for sessions that last about 4-5 hours
  • Must be between 18 and 65 years of age
  • Must be eligible for fMRI scanning
  • Currently recruiting adults who are in treatment for alcohol problems as well as adults who do not have alcohol problems

This is not a treatment study

Call 540-315-0205 or email ARRC@vtc.vt.edu



Risky Choice Behavior in Cocaine Users

The purpose of this research is to study the decisions, including risky sexual decisions, made by individuals who use cocaine. This research may be important for understanding the factors involved in health behaviors.

Adult volunteers needed for a 4-5 visit confidential research study involving:

  • Brain Imaging
  • Decision making tasks
  • Risky choice questions
  • Compensation ranges from $15-210 based on extent of participation
  • Travel compensation to Roanoke may be provided

This is not a treatment study

Call 540-315-0205 or email ARRC@vtc.vt.edu



Self–Control Improvement Intervention (SCII): Improving Abstinence in Smokers Experiment 1

The purpose of this study is to help us learn more about self-control associated with tobacco use and to help us develop new treatments for nicotine dependence.

  • Approximately 3 session study
  • Smokers who drink alcohol and/or use other substances such as cocaine or methamphetamine
  • If you qualify, compensation ranges from $10 to $175 based on length of study and extent of participation
  • Additional travel compensation to Roanoke may also be provided
  • Must be between 18 and 65 years of age

Call 540-315-0205 or email ARRC@vtc.vt.edu



The Social Interactome: A Recovery Community

This is a research project created and maintained by the International Quit & Recovery Registry at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. The primary purpose of this research study is to develop a social network for addiction recovery support. The assessments completed during this 16-week study will examine lifetime drug use, quality of life, and social network participation.

  • 16 weeks of participation
  • Confidential research study
  • For people who are in recovery from an addiction
  • Compensation up to $280 based on extent of participation


Working Memory and Real Time fMRI in Current Alcohol Users

This is a research study aiming to assess the effects of memory skills training in current alcohol users.

  • 30 to 42 session working memory training study
  • If you qualify, compensation is approximately $10-$34 for sessions that last about 1 hour and $60-$80 for sessions that last about 4-5 hours
  • Additional travel compensation to Roanoke may also be provided
  • Must be between 18 and 65 years of age
  • Must be eligible for fMRI scanning
  • Additional bonuses for performance or study completion may be provided

This is not a treatment study

Call 540-315-0205 or email ARRC@vtc.vt.edu

Mission statement

The Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute seeks to make transformative scientific advances in understanding and addressing the fundamental processes of human health and disease. The institute’s research teams train the next generation of leading biomedical scientists, facilitate discovery-based medical education, and sustain and strengthen the Virginia Tech–Carilion Clinic partnership in order to develop one of the nation’s premiere biomedical research institutions.

Read about the VTCRI's vision and governance.

Ongoing Studies