For Study Participants

Are you interested in participating in our research studies?

We are conducting research studies to better understand the biological basis of stoke related language disorders, referred to as aphasia. Another disorder which we are trying to learn more about is Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA). PPA is a form of dementia that mainly affects an individual’s ability to produce and understand language. At present, there is no cure. Speech therapy can help to slow the progression and teach patients ways to cope with the disorder, but cannot halt the underlying problem.

We are also looking for healthy males and females between the ages of 18  and 85 who are right-handed, native speakers of English, and have no history of neurological or psychological disorders. We carry out studies involving, Electrophysiology (EEG/ERPs), structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI/fMRI), and speech, language and cognitive assessments.

To be eligible for the study, you must be 18-85 years old, and native English speaker. You may be eligible if either:

  • you suffer form aphasia due to stroke, brain injury, or other neurological condition like PPA, which interferes with your speech or understanding language

  • OR you have no history of language, learning, reading disabilities or neurological disease

The data that we collect will help us to understand the disease better, and contribute toward developing better treatments for it in the future. Our study involves three components:

  1. Cognitive Testing

  2. EEG (Electroencephalography)

  3. MRI Brain Scanning

All study procedures will take place at the University of Arizona.The entire study will most likely require 4 visits –2 for cognitive testing, 1 for EEG and 1 for MRI. However, multiple procedures may be combined on the same day if you prefer. We will provide parking or bus fare, and additional financial compensation for your time spent completing the study.

About the Tests

Our study involves three components: Cognitive testing, EEG, and MRI brain scanning. 

Cognitive Testing

The first component involves using paper-and-pencil tasks designed to assess the severity of the language impairment, as well as other cognitive functions that are sometimes impaired in stroke or PPA. You will be asked to complete several tests in an office with examiner or speech-language pathologist.

EEG (Electroencephalography)

The second component of the study involves use of EEG Electroencephalography, a technique that measures the electrical activity of the brain using sensors placed on the head. EEG is only a measurement device – it has no effect on the brain. It measures small electrical signals constantly emitted by neurons in the brain. In an EEG study, you will be asked to do language tasks such as reading words or listening to sentences and making decisions about them while you wear a net with electrodes attached to it. Electrodes look like white plastic disks. We will also measure brain activity while you are just resting. An EEG procedure takes about 2 hours.

Watch video of EEG session here.

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MRI brain scanning.

The final component of the study involves use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), a common technology used to make high-resolution pictures of the brain. We combine the information obtained from MRI and EEG to understand exactly how the brain is being affected in stroke and PPA. In one MRI scan for this study, you will simply be asked to rest while the machine takes pictures of your brain. In a different scan you may be asked to perform a short language task. 

What is it?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an imaging technique that produces computerized pictures of the brain, spine, and the body without the use of x-rays or radioactive materials. 

How does MRI work?

MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to scan your body. A computer processes the signal information and displays it as an image on a video screen. The MRI exam is painless and involves no exposure to radiation from the scanner. There are no known side effects or biological hazards associated with the exam. 

What happens during the MRI examination?

When you arrive at the MRI facility, a member of the MRI staff will ask you about your medical history and will further explain the MRI scanning procedure. A technologist will ask you to lie down on the cushioned table which will move into the magnet after you have been comfortably positioned for the exam. When the MRI scan begins, you will hear loud noises similar to that of a drumbeat; these are normal sounds of the scan process. You will be given ear plugs.

Who will be with me?

Usually you will be alone in the examination room. However, the technologist will be right outside of the exam room and can see you through the window. An intercom enables the MRI staff to hear and talk to you at any time during the exam. When necessary a companion, nurse, or parent may be in the exam room. 

How long will the exam take?

This MRI procedure takes about 1 hour.

More information about MRI at the University of Arizona is here

And you can watch a video of the MRI session here 

(For additional information regarding MRI scans such as the process, preparation, and precautions see the files below.)

Enhancing Language Function with Noninvasive Neuromodulation

The purpose of our study is to learn more about how brain stimulation can be used as a treatment for stroke-related aphasia, Primary Progressive Aphasia and other neurodegenerative disorders. In this study we would like to use transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in combination with magnetic resonance imaging and observe brief changes in brain activity prior and immediately following the TMS.

What is rTMS? Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). rTMS works by generating magnetic fields, which can temporarily change activity in the brain’s cells when the special coil is held against the surface of the head. The magnetic pulses generate a weak electrical current in the brain tissue that briefly activates neurons in the targeted regions. When done repetitively, such as every day for a month, rTMS is an effective and safe FDA-approved therapy for migraines and drug-resistant depression. When performed irregularly or in a single session there are only temporary changes to the activity in the targeted neurons that rapidly dissipate. Therefore, rTMS is increasingly used in research studies in order to better understand the brain in both health and disease. The goal of this study is to enhance our understanding of how non-invasive brain stimulation techniques can be used to treat language impairments in aphasia and related conditions.

Watch video of rTMS session here.


For more information about the study, please contact:

Dr. Aneta Kielar

(520) 621-5105 or email:

Please write “brain study” in the subject line.