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Wisconin Twin Project LogoChallenges and adaptations (WTP) - Brain Imaging Study

Our study is the only one of its kind in the world.

What makes this study special? YOU

Image result for wisconsin cities
Related imageYou are among a population-based group of thousands of twins born in Wisconsin. A large study population helps science reflect a wide range of similarities and differences among people.

You contributed extensive family information about parents, siblings, peers, school life, and home life.

You completed many different kinds of assessment (e.g., observed behavior, cognition, biology, interviews, twin and parent rated surveys). Different kinds of assessment provide different perspectives and help build more meaningful interpretations about behavior and development.



You participated in a longitudinal sequence of studies spanning infancy through early adulthood to fully capture a developmental story.

You are part of something big! You have helped us learn a lot and this next phase is going to help science even more.






Below we describe why it’s important to participate now and provide general participation information.


What is the goal of the Twin Imaging study?

Our goals are to learn more about communication between brain structures and how brain measures relate to behavior and experience. Twin research participants help science identify genetic and environmental influences on brain and behavior development.

Imaging twins is a special opportunity to learn about individual differences in behavior and brain structure and function.

Results may provide insight to questions such as:
Are twin differences in cognitive and emotional behavior early in life related to later brain differences? For instance, does early attention during games predict teen brain structure and function?     



Who can participate in the Twin Imaging Study?

Same sex twins between the ages of 14 and 24 years old who previously participated in the Wisconsin Twin Project.Image result for university of wisconsin logo Contact us to learn more.

What will my participation in the Twin Imaging Study involve?

Twins participate in a half day research visit and web-based surveys. The visit takes place at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and includes computer-based cognitive tasks, a brain scan using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and surveys about mood and behavior. For twins under age 18, parents attend and complete surveys about parenting and family life.


What is MRI and what is the experience like?

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. MRI is different from x-rays, CAT scans, PET scans, and other forms of imaging. MRI scanners DO NOT emit radiation and there are NO injections.

The MRI scanner is a large doughnut shaped magnet that sends and receives radio frequency waves. You start in the “Simulation Room” down the hall from the actual scanner. You become familiar with the MRI environment, ask questions, and practice procedures. A head coil that looks like a helmet is placed around your head. You lie on your back and the bed rolls in and out of the scanner.

The MRI machine uses a computer to determine the location of the radio signals and generates images of your brain.

Several items are provided for your comfort, including blankets, pillows, and ear plugs.  A member of our research staff and an MRI technician will be available for questions or to make adjustments throughout the scan.



The MRI session includes both structural and functional brain images. For most of the scan you can simply rest and remain still. During part of the scan, you are asked to stay alert. You will be shown images and asked to judge faces as male or female using a button box. The total MRI procedure lasts approximately 90 minutes. You can end the session at any time without penalty. We further escribe all of this information in our consent form and review it with you when you arrive for the visit.







Will I be paid for participation?

Yes, each twin receives $100 for full participation. Parents of twins under age 18 also receive $50 for participation.

Twins receive printed brain images from their session.

I live far from Madison. Can I still participate?

Yes!   If you live far from Madison, we can provide hotel accommodations.


When are visits scheduled?

We schedule visits on weekdays and weekends, including evenings.
Many visits are scheduled during school breaks over winter, spring, and summer to accommodate schedules, including college-aged twins.


How many twins have participated so far?

So far, over 400 twins participated in the twin imaging study. The Waisman Center has conducted more than 12,000 MRIs with many different pediatric and adult populations.


How can I learn more?

For further questions regarding the Imaging Study please call to speak with research staff at 866-230-2560 (toll free), 608-265-2674 (local) or email us at wtp@mailplus.wisc.edu


Dr. Richard Davidson describes MRI.



University of Wisconsin-Madison :: Department of Psychology :: Waisman Center
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Psychology Department, University of WI, Madison
Waisman Center, UW Madison