Lewisham babies try out ‘Infant Lab’

Baby Charlotte in The Infant Lab. Pic: Jemima Childs

Researchers are appealing for Lewisham parents with young babies to come forward for the latest round of research in a unique project based at Goldsmiths, University of London.

The Infant Lab is a psychology research centre set up to discover how babies learn about the world. Different types of cognitive development experiments are conducted whereby babies play short, fun games which are then analysed to work out how they are learning.

An electroencephalogram (EEG) hat is placed on the baby’s head and they are exposed to different sensory inputs.  The EEG is a non-invasive technology, and only records what goes on in the brain.

The EEG hat which tracks and records brain wave patterns is attached to a computer and the results recorded.  The data shows what the baby can see and what they can feel.

Caspar Addyman, Infant Lab Director, told EastLondonLines: “The lab looks at how babies explore their physical world, and how they learn to coordinate their limbs and their vision.

“As adults, we are used to our body’s coordination, but babies need to learn this from scratch.”

Experiments are carried out on four, eight and ten month-olds to monitor their co-ordination.

Irene Parisi, Visiting Researcher, explained how it worked. “These three different age groups are monitored to see how babies of different ages respond to the same stimuli.”

Babies have also been taken to 2ndyear Psychology classesto allow Goldsmiths students to learn more about the research programme and how babies learn new skills.

Parents who volunteer to take part are invited to the Infant Lab with their baby.  Visits last about an hour and the baby is presented with a certificate and T-shirt.

Addyman reassured parents and researchers that the experiments were safe and met the highest ethical standards.  Everything conducted in the lab was approved by a research committee within the university, he said, adding: “We test how the baby’s brain behaves, but we don’t intervene or change their behaviour.”

Laura West, mum of two, on her third visit to the lab, said: “I think this is a safe project.”  She was happy to help contribute to the research.

Once enough data has been collected, the team is hoping to publish the results and increase awareness about children’s cognitive development.

The Lab encourages local mothers and fathers with young children to volunteer.  You can get in touch with them here.

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