Current Research Projects (New)
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We are investigating how babies’ emerging personalities are related to their brain activity. With the help of hundreds of parents and babies, we developed a questionnaire and the means of observing infants in the lab that allow us to identify early tendencies toward experiencing more positive or negative emotions and an ability to regulate these reactions – the building blocks of personality. We are now relating these behavioral/emotional tendencies to the underlying brain activity. For our Baby EEG projects, we will ask you to complete surveys and participate in short lab visits where your baby will take part in various activities, including playing alone and with you, while s/he has a small “swimmer-like” cap on his/her head reading brain activity.
Our lab relies on a commonly used recording technique known as electroencephalography (EEG). Our EEG system records underlying brain activity visualized as brain waves by placing a cap on the head with electrodes that lie on the scalp (see photo to the right). This method is harmless and non-invasive and will help shed light on the biological foundations of personality as well as emotional and behavioral development across the first year of life.
Baby BEAR Study
This is a collaborative National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) funded study with Dr. Martha Ann Bell at Virginia Tech University and Dr. Nancy Jones at Florida Atlantic University. We are recruiting participants that are less than 6 months old to learn how temperament, emotions, and regulation develop over time and how these are associated with brain activity. We are also interested in how caregiver-infant interactions and maternal behavior are associated with infant temperament and help shape its growth. We ask participants to complete surveys and brief lab visits approximately every 2 months between the time the child is 6 and 18 months old and again at 24 months old (about 7 times total). Participation in this study comes with gift cards each time you participate, ranging from $25-$100 per visit.
Baby JEDI Study
This is a collaborative National Science Foundation (NSF) funded study with Dr. Martha Ann Bell at Virginia Tech University. We are recruiting participants that are 6 months old or younger to learn how temperament and emotions develop across time as well as how temperament is linked with brain activity. We will be able to answer questions about how this growth contributes to self-regulation “coming online.” We ask participants to complete surveys and brief lab visits every 4 months between the time the child is 6 and 26 months old (6 times total). Participation in this study comes with a $25 gift card each time you participate.
This is a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded study conducted with Dr. Sammy Perone in the Department of Human Development at WSU. We are recruiting infants between 6 and 12 months old to learn about the links between temperament and brain activity as well as early self-regulation. We use questionnaires to learn about infant behavior (e.g., temperament, sleep, and language) as well as caregiver experiences. We also observe parent-child interactions and collect brain activity data in our lab using EEG. Once these children are older, Dr. Perone’s lab will follow up with them as preschoolers. Participation in this study comes with a $15 gift card after the first lab visit in infancy.
Laboratory visits are planned so that we can observe your baby in a number of activities designed to evaluate emotions and behaviors as well as their regulation and play interactions with you. Not only do parents and children enjoy playing a number of these games, they also contribute to our knowledge of child development at the same time! Participation at a lab visit is expected to take about an hour, and after completing these visits, you will receive between $15 and $450 in gift cards depending on which study you participate in (as some studies are longitudinal and more time-intensive). Find out which study you’re eligible for by filling out our interest form above.
Prenatal Health and COVID-19 Study
This study aims to investigate the relationship between prenatal mental health and infant temperament at two months postpartum. This is an extension of an earlier project where similar data were collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Results from our pre-pandemic study have been published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national conferences. For example, we found that lower stress levels during pregnancy predicts less negative affect in infancy. Data from this study was also used to develop an instrument measuring anticipatory worries regarding the transition to parenthood.
With parallel data both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be able to examine how this unprecedented event influenced maternal mental health and infant temperament. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in numerous stressors for pregnant women, including uncertainty regarding the birthing process and the risk of perinatal infection. This study will add to our current understanding of how this increased stress may impact infant development.
We are no longer recruiting volunteers for this study.