Brain Activity (NIRS)

The development of perception and cognition are intertwined with the brain’s development in a complicated way. In order to get a more complete picture of this development, we measure children’s brain activity while they view different things of interact with their environment.

One way to study brain function is to measure how much oxygen there is in the blood that comes to the cortex of the brain. The amount of oxygen in a brain area is related to how active that area is. In order to measure the oxygen levels, we can shine a weak infrared light on the surface of the head and see how much light is reflected back from the cortex. The method is completely safe and the amount of light is even less that what we experience outside on a normal day!

During a typical session, we begin by letting the child sit on their parent’s lap and get familiar with the experimenter. Then we place the sensors on the child’s head and make sure that they stay in the right place with the help of a headband. Next, we take a place soft elastic bands around so that the child can’t remove the sensors. Finally, we begin the measurement, usually showing short films to the child which last a total of 5 to 10 minutes.