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.
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.
One study we do examines how heart rate indexes of attention are related to distractibility.
One study we are doing examines how EEG and heart rate are related to young infants’ attention to faces and houses.
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.