Typical Development

Healthy Baby Study

Brief Description
The purpose of this study is to reduce the prevalence of lifelong health impairments that may be caused by stressful experiences in the early years of life. To learn about this we look at the range of experiences that babies have when they are very young, within their first years of life, and see how those experiences affect the way their brain and body develops. Eligibility for Participation families who have a new baby that is a patient at Children’s Hospital Primary Care Center families whose newborn was delivered at 32 to 36 6/7 weeks gestation and admitted to the NICU following delivery families whose newborn did not have any major complications during NICU admissions.

Research Contact Call: (857) 218-3011 or email: Healthybabystudy@childrens.harvard.edu

Participation Details
This study involves five visits to our lab, when babies are 2 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, and 24 months old. All of the visits are timed so they coincide with your baby’s primary care visit to help make it very convenient for you to come in. During the visits we ask you to fill out a few questionnaires and we will show your baby some videos while we record their eye movements. We’ll also use a special, non-invasive cap that lets us see their brain activity while they watch the videos. If it’s ok with you we will also collect small saliva and urine samples from your baby and a blood sample from you at each visit. We offer $50 to you per session, so up to $250 in total, as a thank you for participating, as well as a free toy for your baby. We can also provide free parking or transportation and free childcare for siblings.

Full Description
It is natural for every family to have a huge range of life experiences (both stressful and non-stressful). For some babies, early stressful experiences have been found to increase risk for health problems later in life. In the current study we aim to understand the range of experiences that babies have, and to determine how different babies respond to those experiences in different ways. To do this we will collect some information from questionnaires, measure baby’s eye-movements, and record their brain response while they sit on their mom’s lap and watch some fun videos. We will also look at markers in urine and saliva samples from babies and blood samples from moms to see how their bodies respond to the experiences they have had at different points in time.

By using varied methods and following the same babies over their first years we aim to create a comprehensive picture of risk and resilience during the earliest stages of development. By learning more about how babies respond to the experiences they encounter, we aim to better understand the effects of stress, and improve our understanding of which babies are most at risk for health problems later in life. By improving techniques for earlier identification, we aim to create interventions that are best suited to help individual children and their families have the best possible outcomes.


Infant Screening Project

Brief Description
The main goal of this study is to map early development and identify infants at risk for developing an Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or language and communication difficulties. By screening early and learning more about neural and behavioral functioning, we aim to improve techniques for early identification and intervention. Eligibility for Participation Families who have a new baby or are expecting Families who have a new baby or are expecting and have an older child that has been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Research Contact: ISP@childrens.harvard.edu

Participation Details
This study involves five visits to the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience lasting 3-4 hours each. Visits will be scheduled for: 3, 12, 18, 24, and 36 months (outcome visit). These visits can be scheduled at your convenience during the day or the weekend. All sessions are held at our lab in the Longwood Medical Area.

Full Description
The Infant Screening Project is a collaborative project between Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston University that studies the development of language and social behavior in babies. The purpose of this study is to map early development and identify infants at risk for developing an Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or language and communication difficulties. By screening early to evaluate potential biological identifiers related to social ability and to learn more about neural and behavioral functioning, we aim to improve techniques for early identification and intervention. In order to thoroughly investigate the questions we are asking we’ll be using a variety of methods including; clinical, behavioral, electrophysiological (EEG/ERP) assessments for both children with autism and typical controls. Parents will also be asked to fill out a variety of questionnaires over the four visits in order to collect data about their child’s development.


Emotion Processing in Infancy and Early Childhood

Brief Description
The purpose of this study is to investigate the development of emotion processing in the first seven years of life. Specifically, we are interested in how emotion processing changes from infancy to childhood and how it may be related to other cognitive domains, temperament, and physiology in children. To learn about this, we measure brain activity and eye movements while young kids watch pictures of people displaying different emotions. This data will be compared to their brain activity and eye movements while participating in the same task at infancy. We also administer a short temperament assessment, a battery of tests to measure ability in different cognitive domains, and an assessment of physiological responses.

Eligibility for Participation
As of August 2018, the study team has finished infant data collection and we are running three and five year follow-up studies with families who were previously enrolled at infancy. Our team continues to invite enrolled families to come back in at later time points, so keep an eye out for our emails! Participation Details This study involves one visit to the lab at each time point (when your child turns 3, 5, and 7 years). Sessions typically last anywhere from one and a half to three hours, and will be scheduled at a time that is convenient for you and your child. While we will contact you at each time point, the follow up visits to the lab are completely optional. Additionally, if you have left the Boston area, there are options for remote participation.

Research Contact: Finola Kane-Grade You may reach us at: (857) 218-3660 or by email: emotion.project@childrens.harvard.edu.

Full Description
The ability to read emotions in facial expressions is a critical skill that helps us to navigate our social world. In the current study, we aim to understand how this ability emerges and evolves in infancy and throughout early childhood. To do this, we will measure the brain’s response to a range of emotional faces. We will also utilize a variety of other behavioral, cognitive, genetic, and clinical measures to help us create a comprehensive picture that charts the developmental course of emotion processing throughout infancy and early childhood, including the underlying neural architecture. By following up at age three and five years of age, we hope to be able to track the changes in the development of emotion processing that occur between infancy and five years.