University of South Carolina
Infant Development Laboratory

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Research Methods


We do a variety of research studies in the Infant Developmental Laboratory. Most of our studies involve visual attention, so we show interesting visual patterns, pictures of faces and toys, or Sesame Street video movies. Heart rate is recorded in our studies as a measure of attention--when heart rate slows down it indicates an infant is paying very close attention to the patterns. We also measure EEG ("Electroencephalogram") as a measure of brain activity. If we examine the changes in EEG when infants are viewing a visual pattern, we can determine the areas of the brain that control attention. Finally, several of our participants get a MRI. This is done to map the brain areas in an individual infant. We can use the map of the brain area to tell more exactly which brain areas are involved in attention.

There are three types of research methods described below. Most participants do only one type of study. Some of our participants do both the EEG and the MRI studies.



 


Heart Rate and Attention

Heart rate is recorded in our studies as a measure of attention--when heart rate slows down it indicates an infant is paying very close attention to the patterns. This link is a demo to our heart rate methods.

 

 


Infant Heart Rate and Distractibility

One study we do examines how heart rate indexes of attention are related to distractibility. This link is a video demonstrating a child participating in this study.

 


EEG Recording

We also measure EEG ("Electroencephalogram") as a measure of brain activity. If we examine the changes in EEG when infants are viewing a visual pattern, we can determine the areas of the brain that control attention. This link is a demo to our EEG recording methods.

 

 


EEG, Heart Rate, and Attention to Faces and Houses

One study we are doing examines how EEG and heart rate are related to young infants' attention to faces and houswa. This link is a video demonstrating an infant participating in this study.

 


MRI Recording

Some of our participants get an MRI. The MRI is done to map the brain in an individual infant. We use this map to study brain development, and to tell more exactly which brain areas are involved in attention. We also do MRI studies with preschool children, school-aged children, adolescents, and adults. The link is to a description of the MRI studies done in the lab and has a demo of one of our teenagers getting a MRI.

 

 


EEG for Character and Toy Videos

One EEG study examines how infants respond to video clips of Sesame Street dancing characters, or to video clips of toys. We are interested in the brain areas that respond to moving video scenes, and differently for videos of Sesame Street characters or interesting toys at 9 or 12 months of age.  This link is a video demonstrating an infant participating in this study.


*USC Infant Development Laboratory

*Phone: (803) 777-3293

*Email: uscinfantlab@sc.edu

*Address: Institute for Mind and Brain, 1800 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC