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Project FLEX: Studying the Flexible Brain in OCD

Study Information

Many people with OCD find that they struggle to switch back and forth between different tasks, especially when it comes to the compulsions that are a part of this disorder. The goal of Project FLEX is to better understand how the brain works to allow people with OCD to flexibly change or shift their actions. Project FLEX uses two types of technology to study how the brain functions when switching between tasks. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a form of non-invasive brain stimulation that uses a strong magnetic field to target an area of the brain we believe may be involved in behavioral flexibility in OCD. fMRI, or functional magnetic resonance imaging, allows us to take pictures of the brain while a person is completing a task or while resting. Using fMRI and TMS, we hope to learn more about the brain networks involved in flexible behavior in OCD.

Eligibility Criteria 

You may be eligible to participate in this study if: 

  • You are between the ages of 18 and 55
  • You are diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • You are right-handed
  • You are fluent in English


Eligible participants will be compensated up to $200 for completing all study visits.

More Information/FAQ

What will happen during Project FLEX?

Eligible participants will come in for three (3) visits in total:

  • During the first visit, at the OCD Research Program at Butler Hospital, participants will complete an interview with a member of our study staff, which will include questions about their physical and mental health. Additionally, they will be asked to fill out some additional forms and questionnaires.
  • During the second visit, which will take place at the Brown MRI Research Facility, participants will complete two fMRI scans.
  • Finally, during the third visit, also at the Brown MRI Research Facility, participants will complete two fMRI scans, and will receive repetitive TMS in between the scans. During the fMRI scans, participants will be asked to complete a task on a computer screen. Half of study participants will receive active TMS where the brain is stimulated and the other half will get non-active (or sham) repetitive TMS.

Why is this being done?
This study will help us to learn more about how the brain functions in OCD, particularly when a person is trying to switch back-and-forth between different tasks. A great deal of work has been done over the past several decades to better understand how the brain functions in OCD. While scientists have learned a lot in this time, there is still more to learn. By gaining a better understanding of how the brain works in OCD, we (and other researchers) hope to be able to develop new treatment options for OCD in the future.

Primary Principal Investigator

Sarah Garnaat


Contact Form

For more information or to discuss your eligibility, call (401) 455-6610, or fill out the form below for a staff member to contact you by phone.

Butler Hospital

Area of Study
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Recruitment Status