About this study


What is the Human Connectome Project?

The Human Connectome Project in Development is a ground-breaking multi-site study funded by the National Institutes of Health that seeks to investigate how different parts of the brains are connected to each other, and how these connections change from childhood through adulthood. The Harvard branch of the Human Connectome Project in Development is being led by Dr. Leah Somerville at the Affective Neuroscience and Development Lab.

Who can participate?

We are currently recruiting participants ages 8 to 21 years old. For participants that are minors (i.e. ages 8-17), their participation also involves the presence and active participation of one of their parents during the study visits.

What will happen during the study visits?

Participation is this study involves coming to our lab in Cambridge for two separate sessions, the first one is around 5 hours long, and the second one is around 3 hours long. During these sessions, participants will answer questionnaires about common thoughts, feelings and behaviors, play computer games, undergo safe, non-invasive brain imaging (MRI), and provide some biological samples, like saliva. Several breaks will be provided throughout each of the two sessions.

Please note that participants ages 8-17 need to be accompanied by a parent, who will also be asked to answer some questions about their child’s behavior, personality, moods, and friendships, as well as some questions about themselves. Parents will also be asked to complete some iPad-based activities.

Will I be paid for participating?

Participants ages 8-17: By completing both study visits involved in this study, participants aged 8-17 will earn between $75 and $150 in cash, depending on their specific age. Additionally, we will pay their parents $250 for their time and effort. Participation in this study also involves some opportunities to win bonus money. Participants will also be able to keep the small prizes and snacks given during the testing sessions.

Participants ages 18-21: By completing both study visits involved in this study, participants aged 18-21 will earn $250 in cash. Participation in this study also involves some opportunities to win bonus money.

I’m interested in participating in this study. What is the next step?

Great to hear you’re interested! The first step is to get in touch with us by either emailing us at, or calling us at 617-496-4979. If you’re emailing us, please be sure to include your age (or your child’s age if you are a parent), as well as a note that you’re interested in the Connectome study.

Please note that before we can schedule your appointment we will need to conduct a 10-minute phone screen with you to determine that you (if you are 18-21 years old) or your child (if they are 8-17 years old) are eligible to participate in the study. This phone screen involves questions about health issues you or your child may have now or have had in the past.


Other frequently asked questions


Can siblings participate?

Yes, we welcome families with multiple children, as long as they meet our age range and other eligibility criteria.

Is it safe to have an MRI?

There are no known or foreseeable risks or side effects associated with MRI scanning procedures except for those people who have electrically, magnetically or mechanically activated implants, or metal in or on their bodies. Therefore, our researchers always make sure to carefully remove all metal from participants before they are approved to enter the MRI environment. We will provide more detailed information about MRI scanning if you and your child or teen come in to participate.

You can find more information about what it is like to have an MRI scan here:

Where does the study take place?

Our study takes place at the Northwest Science Building on the campus of Harvard University. Please visit our Contact page for detailed directions and parking information:


Got more questions? Email, or call us at 617-496-4979!