Last weekend, before the horrific Boston Marathon bombings, our family spent some time at Boston Children’s Hospital. But, thankfully, it wasn’t due to illness or asthma or injury. It was to do our part to advance scientific research. Those of you who have been reading since Owen was a baby may remember we did this once before (how cute and chubby is he in those pictures?!).
We were contacted by Children’s a few weeks ago because Owen is in the prime age group for a study they are doing on how spatial memory development is related to brain development during infancy/toddlerhood. I’ve declined to participate in a few studies over the last two years because of scheduling or the hassle of driving to the hospital, but Benjamin has been traveling so much this month that this time I was thankful for the morning activity for us.
Also, as a bonus, Owen is now old enough to understand things like “scientists” and “experiments” and he thought it was SO COOL that he got to be a part of this. And, as a former psychology student and someone who is incredibly interested in human development, I think it’s SO COOL to be a part of it too.
The study involved 2 sessions (one Saturday morning, one Sunday morning) where Owen participated in 2 learning/memory tasks assessing his ability to remember the location of different objects he had seen earlier. Just like when he was a baby, he had to wear an electrode cap, made up of tiny little sensors surrounded by tiny little sponges, that would pick up his brain signals during the task.
I wasn’t sure how he’d feel about wearing the cap this time around (he couldn’t have cared less when he was a baby). He wasn’t really into it when we first put it on…
but once it was on for a minute and he was distracted by toys, he was totally cool.
He had fun with the memory task and quickly became best friends with the researcher. It helped that she rewarded him with gummy candy that I rarely let him have!
The setup at the lab is really interesting. They track his brain waves and where his eyes are looking via cameras in an adjoining room.
Once again, I am so thankful to have these amazing research hospitals so close to home, and happy to be part of the work that they do. Now Owen can’t stop talking about being a scientist and doing experiments too.
Little Dr. Owen in the making, perhaps?
Last time I posted about this I got a lot of emails and comments about how others in the area could participate. Here is the link to sign up to be a part of the participant registry at the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital.