Participating in research

At York Developmental Social Neuroscience Lab, we are interested to find out how babies develop socially and emotionally.

You may wonder how it is possible to study what your baby understands and feels. We use different methods, depending on the study.

Some studies analyse how aroused a baby is and whether she/he smiles or frowns while seeing the emotions of other people. In other studies we record which part of someone’s face babies explore in order to learn about their emotions. For all studies we use baby-friendly technology to measure precisely these responses.

In this video you can see which parts of happy face a 7-months-old baby is exploring. We used an instrument called eye-tracker to record the baby’s eye movements. The red dot shows where the baby is looking and for how long. The bigger the dot, the longer the baby is looking. You will notice that although this baby is very young, the eye movements are quite precise.


eeg capIn other studies we measure signals coming from baby’s brain by using a cap with special sensors, like the one in this picture. This method can tell us how fast babies detect changes in the emotional expression of a face or of a voice. It can also tell us whether babies pay more attention and learn from certain emotions. This method is comfortable and safe for the babies.


Video+Icon+for+WebsiteVideo recordings of babies are also made during the studies. These recordings help our researchers to observe changes in the baby’s state and behaviors, and to check that other measurements are accurate. The videotapes are watched/heard only by our research team.




id26_Berrick_Saul_Building_img_01-150x150The research involves a visit to York Development Social Neuroscience Lab at the University of York. This usually lasts about 1 hour. The study in itself is usually short, 10-15 minutes. The rest of the time is dedicated to allow babies to become familiar with the new environment and to explain you how we proceed. A contribution towards transportation costs will be paid. An appointment system is in place so that you can decide the best time for you and your baby to take part. These arrangements will be made nearer the time. Other children or friends and family are very welcome to come along. As a token of thanks, your baby will receive a small gift. At the end of the session we will give you an explanation of the research findings in more detail.



On arrival we will come and meet you from the car or bus stop. Babies often need a little time to adjust to their new surroundings and we are happy for them to take as long as they need. If they will need to be fed or changed we have facilities on hand.

We are very experienced in working with babies and appreciate that they may not always want to do what we want them to! Most babies seem to enjoy taking part in the baby research. Occasionally, a baby may become grumpy, sleepy or hungry. In this case, or for any other reason, you might wish to stop. The session would be concluded immediately.

Usually a session lasts for about 1 hour. The research procedure and what you and your baby are expected to do will be explained to you. Any questions that you have about the research will be answered as fully as possible. If you agree for your baby to participate in research, you will be invited to sign a consent form just before the procedure begins.

Personal details will be kept securely and treated with confidentiality.

Participation in research is entirely voluntary. If you consent for your child to participate, you will be asked to sign a consent form. Even if you give consent, you and your child will be able to stop participating at any time without giving a reason. You can ask for your details and your baby’s data to be removed from our research.