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Cars and Brains (CAB)

Aim: The purpose of the Cars and Brains Project is to study brain activity that underlies driving, and to investigate how drivers interact with vehicle safety systems. We record driver's brain activity during different driving-related tasks inthelaboratory, in the MRI scanner andbehind-the-wheel to investigate how cognitive processes such as mental workload and focused attention vary under these conditions.This will inform the design and implementationof safety systems in futureautomobiles. We hope togain a better understanding of which mental processes drivers use when driving, so we can target driving situations in which it would be useful to have automated safety systems in place to support the driver, and to gain insight about the best way to design and implement automated safety systems. In this way we hope to make a significant contribution to the design of future cars, making  them safer and more enjoyable to drive. 



Contact InformationIf you are interested in participating or learning more about our research, email



Early Glimpses of the Developing Brain

Aim We are currently enrolling healthy infants and toddlers (age 6 months to 2 years) for a study charting early functional brain development. This study usesnoninvasive neuroimaging techniques including functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and functional MRI. Both techniques are completely safe, noninvasive and effective ways to measure brain function in children as young as infants. This research will help us understand how, when and why specific brain systems develop. We also 

plan to study individuals with brain-based disorders such as autism to understand how, when and why particular systems become disrupted. Ultimately, this research will help us to better diagnose and treat individuals who have brain-based disorders that originate in childhood.

Contact InformationIf you are interested in participating or in learning more about our research, click here:

You can also email or call 650-724-3085 to learn more



The X-Chromosome and Empathy in Teenage Girl

Aim: The purpose of this study is to investigate how specific segments of the X-chromosome contribute to neural correlates of empathetic accuracy and emotion processing. To do so, we are studying adolescent girls with Turner syndrome and adolescent girls who have no genetic syndromes or psychiatric problems with fNIRS. Currently we are recruiting adolescent girls ages 13 to 17 years of age to participate in this study. 
Contact Information: Contact Information: If you are an adolescent girl who is interested in participating or learning more about this study, email 



Aim: We are currently enrolling healthy adults for a study exploring teamwork. The purpose of this project is to study brain activity that is associated with cooperation in teams. We record brain activity using a non-invasive and safe method called functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). In this project we hope to gain a better understanding of the features of cooperation and idea formation in teams.
Target Enrollment: 40 healthy adults
Contact Information: If you are interested in participating or learning more about our research, email

Humor Creativity

Aim: The purpose of this project is to study the association between humor and creativity in young children between the ages of 6-8. We record brain activity using a non-invasive method called functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). This technique is completely safe, noninvasive and an effective way to measure brain function in children. This research will help us understand brain development in children. 
Target Enrollment: 40 healthy children between the ages 6-8
Contact Information: If you are interested in participating or learning more about our research, email

Imaging the brain during exercise

Aim: The purpose of this project is to understand what happens in the brain during exercise that influences the way we think and feel. Studies employ functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to identify the dose-response effects of the intensity and duration of cycling-based exercise upon brain activity, cognition and mood. These findings will help to develop exercise protocols beneficial for individuals with cognitive dysfunction such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This project is funded by the Specialized Foundation.
Contact Information: If you would like to know more, please contact Gavin.  



fNIRS-based Hyperscanning

Aim: We invented two-person hyperscanning by using a single NIRS device. It enables the study of localized brain imaging study of social interaction in a natural environment. In two-person hyperscanning, two participants sit close by and perform a cooperation or competition game. Our previous study demonstrated that the inter-brain coherence, a measure of the correlation between two signals of brain activity, increases during cooperation, but not during competition. In this study, we used NIRS to perform two-person hyperscanning to study social cognition and sex differences in cooperation and competition. We want to use neuroimaging methods to address an important question: ‘Do women and men show different brain activity during cooperation?’ The analysis of brain activity from multiple interacting humans can reveal an additional layer of information in the study of social cognition. It also suggests a new class of neurobiological markers that could be used to diagnose social cognition-related disorders and quantify the effects of their treatments. Our study design includes both same-sex and mixed-sex interactions. They were playing cooperation/competition computer games under two different conditions: facing or non-facing each other.

Target Enrollment: 87 pairs (174 total participants)

Recruitment: Closed

Social Brain Investigation

Aim: Social interaction between children and their parents is known to involve behavioral as well as peripheral physiological synchrony. This project aims at investigating whether such synchrony can also be measured at the neural level, in terms of synchronized brain-to-brain activity between children and their parents. Brain activation measurements are complemented by behavioral assessment (psychological questionnaires) to obtain information about personality traits of the children and their parents. NIRS enables the easy measurement of brain-to-brain synchrony in a naturalistic environment.

Target Enrollment: 20 daughter-mother pairs. The follow-up study is anticipated to include 40 child-mother pairs (20 boys and 20 girls)

Recruitment: Closed

Contact Information: Visit our Participation Page for more information.

Neuro-feedback training for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

Aim: This study was designed to utilize fNIRS to develop a novel paradigm to enhance the effectiveness of behavioral interventions focused on social cognition. Specifically, we utilized fNIRS to quantitatively determine brain activation of children with ASD in real-time while they were performing a computer-based facial recognition training task. In this training task we also provided feedback to participants based on their neural circuitry as well as their behavioral response.

Target Enrollment: 23 children with ASD

Recruitment: Closed

Brain Training

Aim: Cognitive training research that will increase our understanding regarding effectiveness of novel cognitive training exercises.

Target Enrollment: 40 healthy adults

Recruitment: Closed

Neuro-feedback Cognitive Training

Aim: We hope to learn more about how cognitive training affect performance and brain function. Specifically, we are investigating if real-time feedback of brain activity will help subjects improve their performance during certain cognitive tasks.

Target Enrollment: 20 healthy adults (10 females and 10 males, age range 18 to 40)

Recruitment: Closed