BIRC news

Ask a Brain Scientist!

In these free sessions, Prof. Fumiko Hoeft will engage with children about the intricacies of the brain. Children (and parents!) will learn about brain science on everyday topics, ask questions they might have, and get a glimpse into how research is done by a scientist.

For kids aged 8-13, but anyone with a child’s heart for learning is welcome!

Each session can stand on its own. When children attend all sessions, they will receive a Junior Neuroscientist certificate.

To register and for more information, please visit

This program is supported by UConn, UCSF, Haskins Laboratory, Yale University, Made by Dyslexia, and The International Dyslexia Association



OVPR REP Awarded to BIRC Faculty!

Congratulations to Robert Astur (PI) and Fumiko Hoeft (co-PI) on their Research Excellence Program (REP) award for Using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to Reduce Problematic Cannabis Use in Undergraduates! Their project will test whether cravings and real-life use of cannabis can be reduced using TMS in UConn undergraduates who are at risk for cannabis use disorder.


Congratulations to BIRC Seed Grant Recipients

In Spring 2020, BIRC awarded four seed grants, including two student/trainee grants. Congratulations to:

  • Postdoc Airey Lau (Psychological Sciences) and faculty supervisors Devin Kearns (Education) and Fumiko Hoeft (Psychological Sciences) for Intervention For Students With Reading And Math Disabilities: The Unique Case Of Comorbidity
  • Graduate student Sahil Luthra (Psychological Sciences) and faculty supervisors Emily Myers (Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences) and James Magnuson (Psychological Sciences) for Hemispheric Organization Underlying Models of Speech Sounds and Talkers
  • Natalie Shook (PI, Nursing) and Fumiko Hoeft (Co-I, Psychological Sciences) for Identifying Neural Pathways Implicated in Older Adults’ Emotional Well-being
  • William Snyder (PIm Linguistics) for Adult processing of late-to-develop syntactic structures: An fMRI study

BIRC provides seed grants to facilitate the future development of external grant applications. Seed grants are provided in the form of a limited number of allocated hours on MRI, EEG and/or TMS equipment at BIRC. These hours are intended to enable investigators to demonstrate feasibility, develop scientific and technical expertise, establish collaborations, and, secondarily, publish in peer-reviewed journals. Seed grants are intended for investigators with experience in the proposed methods, as well as those with little or no experience who have developed a collaborative plan to acquire such experience. New investigators are encouraged to consult with BIRC leadership early in the development of their project. For more information about the program, please visit our seed grant page.

IMPORTANT: BIRC Reopening Procedure Updates

Dear BIRC Users,

With OVPR publishing revised guidelines, we have revised our safety plan using the new template.

Please note that our safety plan does not imply that you should proceed with research. We have users of all needs, and we must obtain approval to serve these needs. Please follow CDC, State and OVPR guidance and proceed with great caution if you do plan to perform research.

1) TMS
TMS is allowed without the 15min time limit we previously imposed. Face shields are required. Researchers must provide their own shields.

2) EEG
EEG is now allowed at BIRC if you proceed with great caution. This site has posted a draft protocol for those wishing to perform EEG research It’s very detailed and helpful. Not all of these procedures are required at BIRC but we recommend you read this if you are wishing to do EEG. Face shields, gloves and gowns/scrubs are required. Cap prep must be done in a separate room.

3) N95 masks
Investigators requiring participants to take off their mask must use a N95 mask. Researchers must provide their own masks.

4) Face shields and standing sneeze guards
A face shield is needed when you will be closer than 6ft to others (e.g. TMS operator, EEG operator, MRI tech). If you are interviewing or testing a participant behaviorally, then you may use a sneeze guard instead. Face shields must be provided by the users. Sneeze guards are provided by BIRC (but please disinfect before and after). We have 16×16” and are getting an 16×30” ones also. Here are some DIY face shields in case you are into DIY stuff.

5) Health screen forms
You may use this to health screening form to screen participants if you would like. Personnel logs will be at the BIRC’s employee side entrance. We will also have thermometers if you would like to use. Just let us know.

6) Your Lab’s Safety Plan
Please get your lab’s plan approved before proceeding to resume work at BIRC. Please note that there are 4 sections in BIRC’s Safety Plan that requires you to elaborate in your Lab’s Safety Plan (search for “Researchers must include”). Once approved, please share with us in case we can provide additional information that may help to keep your team and participants safe. If you need a sample, Fumiko is happy to share a sample.

As always, stay safe and please let us know if you have any questions.

BIRC Staff