Hero image with Pittsburgh background pittplusme.org/study/1468


Have you been diagnosed with functional dyspepsia and/or irritable bowel syndrome? Are you aged 18-59? If so, you may be able to take part in a research study to help better understand how non-invasive brain stimulation affects communication between the brain and the body. Involves up to 10 study sessions that can take up to 4 hours each. Compensation is provided.


Functional dyspepsia (sometimes known as indigestion) and irritable bowel syndrome are common digestive disorders. Symptoms of functional dyspepsia include upper belly pain, bloating, nausea, heartburn, and frequent burping. Irritable bowel syndrome often causes belly pain, cramping, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation. Although the cause of these disorders is unknown, some research suggests that communication between the brain and the digestive tract may play a role.

The purpose of this research study is to learn more about how the brain communicates with the body and to find out how non-invasive brain stimulation affects the digestive and cardiac systems. Researchers hope their findings will lead to better ways to treat digestive disorders such as functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome in the future.

  • Ages 18 to 59
  • Diagnosed with functional dyspepsia or moderate-to-severe irritable bowel syndrome
  • Have never had a heart attack or a stroke
  • Do not use supplemental oxygen
  • Not diagnosed with diabetes
  • Have not had any gastric surgery
  • No history of head injury, metal in the skull, or seizures
  • Do not have any implantable devices, such as a pacemaker or nerve stimulator
  • Not currently using any of the following medications or illicit substances: amitriptyline (Elavil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), imipramine (Tofranil), doxepin (Sinequan), clozapine (Clozaril), Thorazine, amphetamines, methamphetamine, ecstasy, ketamine, angel dust/PCP, or cocaine
  • Do not drink 3 or more alcoholic beverages per day
  • Not pregnant


Participation involves up to 10 visits. Each visit will last up to 4 hours and can be scheduled according to your preference and availability. Participants will be asked not to eat any food for 4 hours prior to each session. During some visits, researchers will stimulate specific parts of your brain using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). During TMS, weak electrical stimulation is applied to the scalp through an insulated coil. In each session, participants will be asked to perform simple tasks, such as deep breathing or breath-holding, and to consume water, a nutrient drink or a test meal. Some participants may also be asked to take a single dose of either hyoscyamine, a medication used in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, or metoprolol, a medication used in the treatment of high blood pressure or some heart problems. The use of either of these medications is not required for participation in the study. Some participants may be asked to undergo a test that monitors colon contractions by using a flexible catheter inserted via the anus. Participation in the colon testing portion of the study is optional.

  STUDY19010027A - Cerebral Cortical Influences on Autonomic Function

  Featured Research

Age Range
AGE:   18 - 59

Duration DURATION:  Up to 4 hours per visit
VISITS:  Up to 10 visits

Location LOCATION: 
UPMC Montefiore Hospital - Oakland
Compensation COMPENSATION: 

$15 per hour + parking voucher

Phone Number PHONE NUMBER:
Printer Printer   Email A FriendEmail A Friend   ShareShare   TweetTweet   Linked-InLinked-In
Search Icon pittplusme.org/study/1468
Phone Number PHONE NUMBER:


David Levinthal

David Levinthal, MD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition in the Department of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. He serves as the Director of the UPMC Center for Neurogastroenterology and Motility. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Dr. Levinthal’s research interests include the study of the neural mechanisms by which the cerebral cortex influences GI tract function.

PittPlusMe.org 1-866-438-8230 PittPlusMe@pitt.edu
@PittPlusMe share tweet