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May 27, 2009

Parent-InvestigatorsA Dilemma

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

JAMA. 2009;301(20):2159-2161. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.728

A recent news story reported that some psychologists and neuroscientists have used their children as study participants.1 In one case, a neurology professor had 3 of his children undergo a brain scan with magnetic resonance imaging. In a language development study, a psychologist videotaped 70% of his son's waking hours for the first 3 years of his life.1 Other investigators have also conducted research on their own children, including Edward Jenner,2 who tested his smallpox vaccine on his 11-month-old son; Jonas Salk, who tested his polio vaccine on his own children; and psychologist Jean Piaget, who constructed his theories of child development based on studies of his own children.

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