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Longitudinal Accelerated Boston Study (LABS)

Brief Description
In this research study we want to learn more about how children’s thinking, behaviors, and ability to regulate their emotions develop over the first three years of life. These skill sets are important for children to learn, work, and manage daily life. Our primary goal is to develop a toolkit that can be used to assess executive functions and emotional regulation during the first three years of life, when interventions are most effective. We are working in coordination with several international partner laboratories to understand how children develop these skill sets in different environmental contexts. ​

Eligibility for Participation

  • Families with infants between the ages of 0-24 months
  • Families who live in primarily English-speaking households
  • Families with infants who have no developmental concerns

Participation Details
If you decide to join this research study, you and your child will be asked to come in for 3-9 visits, depending on their age, until they turn three years old. Each study visit will last from 1 to 3 hours, depending on the tasks assigned for that visit. At each visit we will assess your child’s responses to pictures and sounds and play age-appropriate behavioral games with your child. As a thank you, families who participate will be compensated up to $425, depending on your child's age at enrollment. Families will also receive free parking and childcare for siblings during visits. Your child will receive a small toy to take home at the end of each visit.

Research Contact
Call 617-355-5327 or email TheLabStudy@childrens.harvard.edu

Full Description
The first three years of a child’s life is a period of rapid growth and development. Our team aims to learn more about how these changes occur at more frequent timepoints in a child’s early years than other studies have previously explored, to better understand what kind of growth is typical for children in the early years.

We will use a camera to track your child’s eye movements as they look at a series of age-appropriate videos and pictures presented on a screen. In addition, we will use a non-invasive cap that enables us to observe their brain activity while they watch these materials.

You will be asked to complete several surveys and to play with your child during the visit, which we will video and audio record. Your child will complete age-appropriate “games” at each visit that allow us to observe their cognitive and emotional development. During one visit, we will collect a small saliva sample from your child. At one to two visits, you will be asked to take home a wearable recording device for your child, which will be used to record the sounds your child hears at home for a full day. Participation in this wearable language device component will involve additional compensation.

Your time and commitment to this project is deeply appreciated and will contribute to potentially groundbreaking research. We aim to develop a toolkit for measuring executive function and emotion regulation that will increase the opportunity for earlier developmental interventions, and hopefully improve access to support that children receive in the future. It is a privilege and honor for our team to work with and learn alongside your family. We look forward to seeing all that your baby can do!

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 a 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.

Emotion Processing in Infancy and Early Childhood

Brief Description
The purpose of this study is to investigate the development of emotion processing. Specifically, we are interested in how emotion processing changes from infancy to childhood and how it may be related to other cognitive domains, temperament, physiology, and mental health in children.

Eligibility for Participation
We are no longer recruiting participants for this study. The study team has finished infant and three-year follow-up data collection. We are running five and seven-year follow-ups with families who enrolled at infancy. This study involves one visit to the lab at each time point (when children turn 3, 5, and 7 years). Sessions typically last anywhere from one-and-a-half to three hours. While we contact families at each time point, the follow up visits to the lab are completely optional. Additionally, if families have left the Boston area, there are options for remote participation.

Research Contact
Call 857-218-3660 or 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 childhood. To do this, we measure the brain’s response to a range of emotional faces using electroencephalography (EEG) and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). We utilize a variety of behavioral, cognitive, genetic, and clinical measures to help us create a comprehensive picture that charts the developmental course of emotion processing throughout infancy and childhood. We also administer a short temperament assessment, a battery of tests to measure ability in different cognitive domains, and an assessment of physiological responses.