6-Year-Old Fascinated By Brain Imaging Center, Gets To Participate In Study

7:55 AM, Apr 29, 2013   |    comments
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WUSA9) -- What were you interested in when you were six years old? Maybe it was riding your bike or playing with dolls. Most likely, you weren't interested in brain research, but we found one little girl who is fascinated with medical science at the University Of Maryland campus.

When you're six years old, one of the things you learn how to do is read a map. Isabella Taylor is learning to do that...but with a map of her brain. She's only in kindergarten but can't get enough when it comes to brain research.

Her fascination happened with a visit to Maryland Day on the College Park campus last spring. There, she learned about the neuro imaging display.

Her mother, Maggie Taylor, told us, "She wanted to see the brain and it was on our map. I was tired, and she said 'we have to go to that tent.' We get there up the big hill and I couldn't pull her away."

As luck would have it, the Brain Imaging Center was doing a study of a child's ability to control brain activity. They called Isabella.

Dr. Luiz Pessoa, who works at the center, said the study is trying to help "understand an area of research that's called emotion regulation."

Researchers first put Isabella in a toy MRI to get her used to it. Then they moved her to the big one. They showed her some animal pictures -- some were scary and some were not -- with a short story to see how she could manage or regulate her emotions.

When researchers changed the story, she adjusted her emotions to even the scary photos. After she finished, Isabella got to see the results.

"This part here in the back of the brain is the visual cortex. That's where the vision is in your brain," explained a researcher. 

That information only made her more excited and more curious.

According to her mother, "For the past year every time we go to the doctor she's been asking a million questions. 'What's this called, what's that called.'"

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