We are investigating how babies’ emerging personalities are related to their brain activity.
Our Baby EEG project was recently funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and will involve: (1) an intensive longitudinal study during infancy, aimed at discerning approach/avoidance contributions to emerging self-regulation in the toddler period – this is a collaborative study conducted with Dr. Martha Ann Bell at Virginia Tech; and (2) a longitudinal study designed to uncover infant reactivity/regulation foundations of executive functions in the preschool period, conducted with Dr. Sammy Perone, WSU.
With the help of hundreds of parents and their babies we developed a questionnaire, and the means of observing infants in the laboratory, 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 this study, we will ask you to complete questionnaires about your baby and participate in short laboratory sessions wherein your baby will take part in a number of activities, including playing by him- or herself and with you, while he or she 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 (see photo below) by placing a cap on the head with electrodes that lie on the scalp. 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.
Three laboratory visits (around 6, 10 and 14 months of age) 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, as s/he develops. 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 is expected to take about an hour, and you will receive a t-shirt, a toy, as well as a $15 gift card for your baby, after completing each of these laboratory visits, respectively. Due to the COVID19 situation, our research has been moved online, which means that for the time being, we are only asking parents to complete the online survey portion of the study. We are hoping to resume in-person data collection in the Spring of 2021.