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Late Talker Project

Late Talker Project


Children with language delay (“Late Talkers”) are at risk of experiencing academic and socio-emotional issues. Six percent of the population struggles with developmental language disorder, which can have negative consequences for reading and math achievement. Despite this, there is currently no reliable behavioral or neural basis for identifying young children who are at risk for language delay. This project is the first to longitudinally examine the brain basis of language development in typically developing and “late talker” preschoolers.


Find out if your child is eligible to participate by completing this short questionnaire!


Project Description:

This study will investigate how children’s brains process language. We use functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to measure brain structure and activity. fMRI is safe and non-invasive (NO radiation like with X-ray).


Why Participate:

  • Taking part in this study may help scientists better understand language development, and the mechanisms that support language development in late talkers.
  • Children who participate receive a picture of their brain to take home with them.
  • Participants who enroll in this study receive payment of 30$/hr to compensate them for their participation.
  • Parents may elect to receive a report with results of their child’s standardized testing results.


Who is invited?

We are actively recruiting children with a language delay and typically developing children between the ages 2.5 – 5.0 years of age. Families are invited to come in for in-lab study visits when children are 3.5- 5.0 years old, but participation before this age is possible by filling out parent reports about child’s language development.


Children CANNOT participate in MRI studies if they:

  • Have any metal in their body (braces, implants, etc.)
  • Are non-native English speakers.
  • Have a history of very premature birth, uncorrected visual impairment, psychiatric disorders, or neurological disease.


What to expect:

  • Two sessions at the Brain Development Lab
  • Play interactive learning games.
  • Standardized tests
  • Experience a mock MRI and a real fMRI scan (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)



Families will receive compensation (30$/hr) for participating as well as their child’s test scores and a picture of their brain.


Study protocol:

Children who qualify to participate will initially visit the lab twice. In the first visit, children will will do behavioral assessments to measure speech, language, and intelligence. They will also practice playing language games in a mock fMRI scanner to familiarize themselves with the real fMRI testing environment. On their second visit, the children will complete the games in a real fMRI scanner that will collect brain images as the child plays the games. Families may be asked to come back after 2 years to allow the research team to measure their development across time. Both visits can be scheduled during the day, after school, or on weekends. For both visits, a legal parent or guardian must be present so we can better introduce the study to you and have you sign consent forms for your child. All the data provided by your child will remain confidential. No child will be identified by name in any reports of this study.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us via email, 615-875-1667.