Current studies

Below is a list of some of our current studies at the lab. Please check out the “Contact Us” tab if you are interested in signing up your child to participate in one of our studies.

“Horizontal Faces Study” Project

What kind of information do babies use to recognize and tell apart different faces? We think that when faces are hard to recognize, such as when they are blurry, there is special information still there that helps us work out the person’s identity. In the current study, we want to know if that information helps babies tell the difference between faces that are hard to recognize. To figure this out, we will show babies blurry pictures of their mom’s face and an unfamiliar face on a computer screen, and see which face babies like to look at more. If they look at their mom’s face more than the unfamiliar face, that will tell us babies can recognize and tell the difference between identities even when faces are hard to recognize. This study is recruiting 2- to 3-month-old infants to participate in a 1-hour visit to our lab.

“I SEE” Project

Have you ever wondered what the world was like, from your baby’s perspective?  We do! We think what babies see will relates to what they learn and how their brain develops.  We also want to know how this changes as they get older.  To find this out, we’re using small, light, cameras mounted on fuzzy head-bands to record the world from a baby’s perspective.  Families spend a week with the camera, recording their baby’s typical world.  After the week, they pop by to Ryerson where we show their baby lots of pictures of smiling, happy faces. How the infants respond to these faces will let us know what type of faces the baby prefers, whether they can tell the difference between 2 similar faces, and how their brain is responding to the faces. We’re looking for 3-, 6-, and 9-month-old infants to participate in this study.

Infants’ Ability to Recognize Facial Expressions of Emotion

An infant’s ability to recognize facial expressions of emotion is extremely important for the development of early interaction, the ability to regulate emotions, caregiver relationships, and later social skills. In the current study, we are investigating when infants are able to recognize different facial expressions of emotion, and whether it’s easier to recognize emotions when they are expressed by familiar people (e.g., mom and dad) compared to unfamiliar people. We are currently recruiting 6- and 9-month-old infants for this study.

Cross-cultural emotion recognition in children

Do children show cross-cultural differences when recognizing emotions? Recent studies have found that individuals are more accurate at recognizing emotions when expressed by members of their own culture rather than members not belonging to their cultural group but it is unclear when this own-culture advantage develops. The goal of this study aims to address this question by exploring children’s accuracy when recognizing emotions (happy, sad, angry, fearful and neutral) expressed by people of various ethnic backgrounds (South Asian and Caucasian) and cultural backgrounds (people born and raised in Canada and people born and raised abroad). The way we do this is by playing a fun computer game, in which the child sees a face and has to guess what emotion the face is expressing. This study is currently recruiting 6-10 year old South Asian children.

Emotion Discrimination in the infant brain

The goal of this study is to figure out whether babies can tell the difference between different emotions. Adults are very good at differentiating between positive emotions (such as knowing when a person is happy or surprised) and also negative emotions (angry or sad). We are interested in seeing when babies are able to tell the difference between these similar emotions or if they treat them the same. The way we will figure this out is by showing babies a silent video of adult faces expressing different emotions (like happy, sad, angry, or surprised) while we measure the natural response in their brain using a cap with tiny sensors on it. It looks like a little swim cap and works very similarly to the way a microphone picks up your voice.