In the Brannon Lab, we study the development of numerical cognition across the lifespan. We conduct behavioral and neuroimaging studies with infants, children, and adults. In this way, we hope to learn how our understanding of number changes throughout development and to discover the biological bases of this understanding. If you would like to learn more about participating in one of our studies, please email us at brannonlab@sas.upenn.edu.

What happens during a visit?

After filling out some initial paperwork, you will have the opportunity to ask questions of the experimenter. What happens next depends on the type of study with which your children are involved.

Research with Kids

Behavioral studies with kids

Your child will play a series of games. Some involve using a touch screen computer, and others will be table games played with the experimenter. Throughout the games, your child will be rewarded with stickers or tokens. They will also receive a larger toy at the end.

fMRI studies with kids

During the first 30 minutes of your visit, you and your child will be introduced to the procedure using a mock MRI Scanner. The mock scanner is designed to familiarize children with the sights and sounds of a real MRI scan. During this time, parents will complete some paperwork and will have the opportunity to ask questions of the experimenter.

After the training session, we will continue on to the real MRI scanner. Parents can watch from an observation room while an experimenter accompanies the child into the scanner. Your child will be given ear plugs, headphones, and a microphone so that they will be able to communicate with the experimenters and the MRI technician at all times. During the MRI Scan, your child will watch a movie and play a few computer games. If at any point you or your child do not want to continue with the experiment, we will stop immediately.

Research with Infants

We get babies’ names from the public birth records. We then look up phone numbers and store the information in our secure database. You have the option of having your name removed from the database at any time.

Behavioral studies with infants

Your baby will sit on your lap or in a high chair right next to you. We will show him/her some pictures on a computer screen. We will record how long your baby looks at these pictures in order to understand what babies know about things like number and time.

 

What do my child and I receive for participating?

Behavioral studies with infants

Your baby will receive a small gift (usually a t-shirt or bib) as well as an Infant Scientist Degree. We also offer parents $5 for travel reimbursement.

Behavioral studies with kids

Your child may choose a small gift and some stickers. We also offer parents $5 for travel reimbursement.

fMRI studies with kids

Your child will receive a small toy after the completing the mock MRI scanner training and a larger toy after completing the real MRI scanner. We also offer $25 per hour and pictures of your child’s brain.

Other Q & As

What if my child becomes uncomfortable?

Generally, children find the studies to be fun and entertaining. However, if your child becomes uncomfortable or fussy, we can take a break or stop the study at any point in the individual evaluation of your child.

How long does a visit take?

Visits last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on study type. This allows time for parking, completing some paperwork, and for you and your child to get comfortable in the lab prior to beginning the study.

Does my child have to visit more than once?

Some studies involve more than one visit, but many do not. We will be sure to discuss this with you when we schedule your appointment!

Can I bring my other children along?

Of course. We have many toys and books in our waiting room and a member of our friendly staff will stay with your other children while you are with your child.

Will you be able to provide me with information about my child’s performance?

We are primarily interested in average performance across many children in a given age group. We will not be able to provide you with an individual evaluation of your child.

What do you do with the results of your study?

Many of our studies are published in academic journals or presented at conferences. All data is presented in the form of group statistics and your child’s name or personal information will never be published or connected with the data.

How can I see the results of the study?

Please click the Publications tab for a list of our lab’s publications.

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