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Participants and Families

What is Emotion Regulation?

Emotion regulation refers broadly to the implementation of automatic or intentional strategies to modulate the trajectory of an emotion or emotional state in order to promote adaptive, goal directed behavior. In the past decades and currently, the use of neuroimaging, such as functional MRI (fMRI), has provided insight into the neural or brain systems that support the control of emotion. Teaching emotion regulation is also commonly integrated in cognitive-behavioral interventions for children and adolescents. Emotion regulation strategies may include attentional deployment (e.g., selective attention, distraction), strategies to modulate expression of negative emotions (e.g., suppression), and strategies to alter the interpretation or meaning of a stimulus or event (e.g., reappraisal). On a neural systems level, emotion regulation engages networks in the brain the span the prefrontal, parietal and temporal cortices (also called the association cortex or networks of the brain). Disruptions in the engagement and/or modulation of these large-scale networks in the brain is thought to be involved in child mental health. The Ibrahim Lab investigates the nature of impairments across networks of the brain that are implicated in child mental health.

What is MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves, a large magnet, and a computer to make detailed pictures of areas inside your body, such as the brain. The information here is intended to help with knowing what to expect for a MRI scan during our studies.

Setting up for the scan

  • During an MRI, you will lie on a table that slides into the MRI machine.
  • Imaging for research studies in our lab typically lasts about 1-1.5 hours with room setup.
  • It is understandable to feel a little uncomfortable or nervous inside of the scanner. Our research staff will be with you for the entire visit and scan.
  • At the Ibrahim Lab, we believe that communication is key to making you as comfortable as possible. Our research staff will speak with you and your parent or caregiver before entering the MRI to explain what to expect, review safety procedures and checks such as a metal detector, and complete a safety sheet.

During the scan

  • Once you are positioned on the scanner table, we will make sure you are warm enough, comfortable, and provide a blanket, if needed.
  • You will hear loud knocking noises, but we will give you earplugs to muffle the sound.
  • There are speakers in the MRI machine and you can choose your preferred movie to watch during some parts of the scan. We have a large selection of DVDs.
  • Our research staff will also be able to talk to you throughout the MRI scan.
  • Some children and teens may move around and we will give reminders to “stay still like a statue.”
  • There is also a camera in the MRI that will allow us to see and check on you as well.
  • You will also have a handheld emergency button that you can press at any time if you feel you need to stop the scan. Study participatation is voluntary, and you are in control and can stop at any time.

Our Research at the Ibrahim Lab

Our research seeks to advance understanding of brain networks that play a role in regulating emotions (i.e., emotion regulation). Another goal of our research is to uncover how and which disruptions across neural systems can lead to difficulties in emotion regulation in child mental health. Along these lines, our research aims to advance the development of neural markers that can help inform clinical treatments for youth. For example, are there brain biomarkers that can help identify for whom a particular treatment might be best for? The Ibrahim Lab uses neuroimaging approaches, such as functional and structural MRI, to better understand these neural systems underlying emotion regulation difficulties.

It is our overall goal to improve the lives of families and children with mental health through our research.

Ibrahim Lab Research Studies

To learn more about our research studies or to schedule an appointment, please email or call our team at