Foss-Feig Laboratory

OUR STUDIES

Our studies typically involve playing fun, simple computer games while we measure your behavior or brain activity.

EEG stands for electroencephalography, which is a noninvasive way to measure what is going on inside of someone’s brain. EEG let’s us find out things like how quickly someone’s brain responds to certain stimuli or how much a person pays attention to something. EEG involves placing a sponge-cap on someone’s head while they listen to sounds or watch images, and lets us investigate sensory and perceptual functioning.

Eye-tracking research involves a person watching images move around a screen while a camera watches where the person is looking. These studies allow us to measure things like what part of a picture a person spends the most time looking at and how quickly a person can look at new images when they appear.

Studies that look at behavior allow us to explore how people behave in different situations. Our research allows us to investigate behavior in many different scenarios, such as when a person is answering questions, playing with toys, interacting with other people, or completing computer computer games.

fMRI stands for functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which is a noninvasive way to measure brain activity. fMRI allows us to measure which parts of the brain respond to certain kinds of images and sounds by “taking pictures” of the brain every couple of seconds.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do I contact someone in the lab?
If you are interested in participating, or know someone who might be interested, please contact Christopher McLaughlin at christopher.mclaughlin@mssm.edu.

Would I be eligible to participate in a study?
We are seeking individuals ages 2 to 50 to participate in exciting neuroscience research at the Seaver Autism Center at Mount Sinai! Across studies, we are looking for participants with autism spectrum disorders as well as typically developing participants who are willing to come to our center and participate in various non-invasive tasks. We are also looking to recruit individuals with ASD who may also experience psychosis and those who are diagnosed with rare genetic disorders associated with ASD, such as Phelan McDermid Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, and FOXP1 syndrome.

What will it be like to participate?
We conduct a wide variety of research at the Foss-Feig Lab, located on-site at 1428 Madison Avenue! Participation will always include a screening phone call, parent forms, as well as cognitive and diagnostic assessments. Depending on your eligibility, you may be asked participate in various play-based assessments, an electroencephalogram (EEG), an eye-tracking session, or a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan (fMRI).

At your first visit, one of our research coordinators will greet you and go over consent forms, where the research process will be described in great detail. The coordinator will also tell you what you can expect to do for the day – such as whether you or your child will be working with a clinician, filling out forms, or doing behavioral, eye tracking, or brain recording parts of the study. Every part of our research is completely voluntary, so if you are uncomfortable with anything, you should always let us know.

When can I come?
We are typically open from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm, Monday to Friday throughout the year, but we will try to be as accommodating and flexible as possible with scheduling. We realize that children have school and parents have work schedules, and we are happy to work with each family to plan a participation schedule that works for everyone.

How will I or my child benefit?
By participating in research, you will be helping us understand how the brain affects perception, cognition, and behavior in different disorders like autism. While our research won’t answer specific questions about why you or your child has autism or have any treatment benefits, you will be compensated an average of $20 an hour for your participation. In addition, we provide – free of charge – comprehensive assessment reports based on the results of standardized cognitive and diagnostic testing for all individuals with ASD.

Is participation confidential?
Yes. Research participation is confidential, and any information we collect and store is associated with a unique code, rather than being linked to your name. We will never share information about you or your child with any outside individuals without your permission, or tell anyone that you’ve participated with us. All research staff are thoroughly trained in confidentiality and privacy laws for health information, and we keep all our data under tight lock and key.

How do I prepare for a study?
When you schedule your first appointment, the coordinator making the appointment will walk you through what will happen at your first visit. This information will be reviewed in detail while you consent at the start of your participation, and you should always feel free to ask questions. If you have any previous evaluations or educational reports, it would be a great help if you could bring those to your first visit or send them to the research coordinator in advance. Please also take all medications as prescribed, and bring information about the name of medicines and dosing to your first visit.

Before visits that involve an EEG, we ask that participants do not use any hair products and remove all braids and dreadlocks, as they may interfere with the EEG.

Participants who need glasses or contact lenses should wear them to their visit.

Will it hurt?
All of the research at the Foss-Feig Lab is completely non-invasive and pain-free. We do everything we can to make the experience as pleasant and comfortable as possible. An EEG involves placing a spongey cap on the head that measures the electricity naturally given off by the brain. There are no electrical shocks involved in our research – we are just recording electrical activity that is constantly occurring in a healthy brain. An fMRI involves lying still in a scanner that uses magnets to measure brain activity. There is no radiation and we check carefully to be sure any participants have no metal in their body before we do a scan.

Our research team is well trained in helping individuals with ASD to successfully complete research tasks. We use sensory desensitization procedures and can explain what we’re going to several times before we do it. With parental permission, we allow kids to watch TV during setup to help keep them still and calm. An additional research team member or a parent can always stay with a child if it would help, too.  Finally, we are happy to show you and your child the rooms and equipment for recording brain activity before we actually complete that part of the study so you can prepare at home.

Do you offer genetic testing?
We do offer genetic testing through core research studies at the Seaver Autism Center. Research testing is free, and staff at the center can work with your insurance to be sure clinical genetics is covered. If you or your child is nervous about a blood-draw, we can also provide numbing cream to make the blood draw as stress-free as possible. If collecting blood is not an option, we can collect saliva instead.

Where is the lab located?
We are located at 1428 Madison Avenue at the corner of 99th and Madison in the Atran research building. More detailed instructions on how to find us can be sent upon request!

Have another question? Ready to participate?
Contact us at fossfeiglab@mssm.edu or 212-241-3172