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What is the Brain, Cognition and Development Lab?

The Brain, Cognition and Development Lab, or BCD Lab is part of the Department of Psychology at the University of Florida and is directed by Dr. Lisa Scott. We are staffed by postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, staff, and undergraduates and our research is aimed at better understanding learning and how we as parents, educators, and communities can support development during infancy and into childhood.

How will my family be contacted?

Our research studies are generally based on the ages of children at a given time. If your child’s age falls within the range we are interested in, you may be contacted by phone or email to discuss the study and whether you would like your child to participate.

What can my child and I expect if we participate?

Our research takes place on the UF campus in the Psychology Building. For most of our studies, you and your child will come to UF, park right outside our building and spend about an hour in our lab. Our research is designed for infants and children. You will be fully informed about what you and your child will be asked to do. Our lab is designed to make families feel comfortable and none of our methods are invasive or harmful.

Will I be with my child throughout the study?

Yes. Keeping parents close to their children throughout the visit ensures a pleasant experience for everyone.

Can I bring my other children?

Of course! With advanced notice, we will provide a sitter for siblings in our playroom in the lab.

What are Event-Related Potentials (ERPs)?

The brain contains billions of neurons and connections between neurons. When neurons communicate with each other they produce electrical activity. The electrical activity of neurons spreads throughout the head and can be non-invasively recorded from the scalp using recording sensors.

Recording this electrical activity for a continuous period of time is called the electroencephalogram or EEG. The ERP reflects the brain’s response to a specific event, such as the presentation of a picture or sound. This method allows for us to present different pictures to infants and examine the brains response to these different pictures. For example, in one study, a picture of the mother’s face and a picture of a stranger’s face were presented to 6-month -old infants. Although infants can’t tell us that they recognize their mother’s faces, a different brain response to the mother’s face compared to the stranger’s face suggests that the infant is differentiating these two faces.

Will participating in an ERP study harm my infant/child?

EEG has been used to examine brain activity in infants, children, and adults for over 30 years. It is a safe, non-invasive method for measuring brain activity. By placing recording sensors on the head we can pick up brain activity that is naturally emitted from the head. Recording brain activity from sensors is analogous to recording a voice with a tape recorder. This recording process does not hurt the participant in any way.