Cognitive Development Lab


What are our studies about?
As a parent, you know that children develop quickly during the first few years of life. The Cognitive Development Lab at The Ohio State University tries to capture and explain some of these developmental changes by investigating early language and concept development between the ages of 6 months and 8 years old. Below are some of the specific research questions we are trying to answer.

Word Learning
How do infants and children learn words, and when do infants realize that words are different from other types of sounds (e.g., car horns, phone rings, etc.)? How do words and other types of auditory information affect processing of visual information?

Categorization and Induction
Can infants and children learn to group objects together, and what factors help children categorize objects? Does labeling objects help a child develop categories for organizing information early in development? What types of information are children paying attention to when making generalizations about a given object or event?

Putting together Picture and Sound
How quickly can the brain detect changes in auditory and visual information? How does pairing pictures and sounds together affect processing speed?

What are our methods?
In order to investigate the above questions, we utilize several methods of measurement. Below are descriptions of the different types of measures used in our lab.

Computer Game Tasks
In addition to the above, we also have a number of computer based, game-like tasks that inform our research questions even further. This includes computer games that tell us more about how a child is remembering and processing new information, and ultimately, how a child is categorizing new information.

Eye-tracking has been an incredibly useful tool in helping researchers understand how infants, children, and adults distribute their visual attention during learning. When using this state-of-the-art equipment, there is no need for a participant to wear any additional gear or attachments of any kind. During an eye-tracking session, children see pictures presented on a special monitor, and the camera safely records where the child is looking on the screen. Parents are more than welcome to observe and/or sit with their child during a given eye-tracking session.

Heart Rate
We can also learn a lot about development and learning by examining cardiovascular changes. In particular, it is well known that heart rate decreases somewhat when children and adults are actively processing new information. To measure heart rate, we can examine the timing for how quickly auditory, visual, and multi-sensory information is able to grab a child’s attention, how long this information holds their attention, and what types of information are most likely to result in better learning.

Electroencephalography (EEG)

We use the EEG equipment to discover how the brain's waves react when doing tasks such as word learning and memory.