Infancy Studies Laboratory
at Rutgers University

Frequently Asked Questions


How long do visits usually take?

Visits to our lab vary in length depending on the tasks scheduled.  Some visits take only about 30 minutes, but the more typical visit ranges from 1.5 to 2 hours in length.  This time includes getting oriented to the lab environment, explanation of the tasks your child will complete, and any breaks required for feedings, diaper changes, etc.

When does the lab schedule visits?

The lab is open year-round from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding major holidays.  Visits are usually scheduled to begin between 9:30 and 4:00 on weekdays at times that are convenient for participants.

Will I learn whether my child is developing normally?

The Infancy Studies Laboratory is a basic research facility, not a clinic.  The experimental and standardized tasks we administer are designed to provide information for our research studies.  Therefore, we cannot provide formal clinical reports of your child’s performance.  As a participating parent, however, you will receive letters documenting your child’s performance on our various tasks, including our standardized developmental measures.  If our testing suggests any concerns about your child’s development, we will let you know and will recommend that you see your pediatrician for further evaluation.  We can also share information with your pediatrician or therapist with your written permission.

Where are you located?

We are located in the University Heights section of Newark, NJ, a short drive from Route 280.

Where do I park?

We provide convenient parking directly outside the front door of our facility.  When you arrive, you will park in one of the spots designated for our participants and will then receive a parking permit from the receptionist right inside our front doors.  You will place this permit on the dashboard of your vehicle.

What does a visit entail?

Our visits vary depending on the age of your child and the study in which he or she is enrolled.  Typical tasks for our studies include brain wave measurements (see below for details), tasks where your baby will look at pictures and/or videos while listening to sounds, and some standardized developmental and language assessments.  You will be with your child at all times, and our activities are designed to keep babies as engaged and as happy as possible.

Can I bring my other children with me?

Yes!  If you need to bring other children with you for a visit, please inform us when you schedule your appointment.  We have staff members available to stay in an adjacent room with your non-participating children, and we have toys, crayons, and videos available to keep them occupied.

How many visits will I have to make to the lab?

The number of visits depends on the study in which your child is enrolled, so we are often able to accommodate parents with limited availability.  Some of our studies are longitudinal in nature, so your child may be seen several times over the course of several years.  Some of our research requires a lesser commitment of just a few visits at a single age.

How do you recruit children for your study?

Participating families come to us from many sources.  Often parents who enjoy their visits to the lab invite their friends and family with babies to contact us.  We also have found some parents via local internet parenting groups and via our own website.  We also receive lists each month of babies born in our area and send out informational flyers on our studies to their parents.

Can I bring other adults to observe the sessions?

Yes!  While only one adult may accompany your child during the laboratory tasks, all of our procedures can be viewed on monitors from our control rooms.  Other adults (and children) are welcome to watch the sessions from these viewing areas.

Will you tell me my child’s results?

The Infancy Studies Laboratory is a basic research facility, and thus we do not provide formal clinical reports.  As a participating parent, however, you will receive letters documenting your child’s performance on both our experimental and standardized tasks.

Will data collected be kept confidential?

All our participants are assigned subject identification numbers that are kept separate from all identifying information (e.g., name, address).  All data collected are kept confidential, and the identity of our subjects is never revealed in publications or presentations.  We do record our sessions and occasionally use photos or videos in presentations or publications.  However, we will not use photos or video in this way without the express written consent of a parent.

Who makes sure that your studies are ethical and safe?

Each of our studies is reviewed and approved by Rutgers University’s Institutional Review Board for The Protection of Human Subjects in Research before we begin collecting data.  This process helps ensure that our procedures are physically and psychologically safe for our participants.

What are brain wave measures?

You may have seen doctors in hospitals or on television taking EEG (Electroencephalogram) readings of the natural and ongoing electrical activity of a person's brain. This activity is produced by all of us all the time (when we are awake and even during sleep) and these “brain oscillations” vary according to the kind of activity in which we are engaged.  This activity can be recorded by soft, spongy sensors that are gently placed on the head.  These are passive sensors -- that is, they only record information -- and nothing comes out of the sensors.  We use a well-known Geodesic Sensor Net system, which looks a bit like a hairnet with lots of little sponges attached to it.  Brain waves are obtained from a special analysis of EEG.  These brain waves show us the brain's response to a particular stimulus or external event, such as a picture or sound.  Brain activity before, during, and after a stimulus presentation is recorded.  This allows us to observe where, when, and how the brain responds to a given stimulus.  For more information on EEGs, please visit our MRI/EEG information page here.

Will it hurt?

All the procedures we use are comfortable for you and your baby and have no potential for harming your baby either physically or mentally.  The behavioral procedures involve listening to sounds, looking at pictures, and interacting or playing with toys and objects. The brain wave procedure is comfortable and painless (the net feels just like wearing a light hat), completely safe, and non-invasive.

Will participating help my baby and me?

While there are no direct benefits of participation for you or your baby, participation will provide to you comprehensive developmental testing of your child.  Results of the standardized tests administered to your child will be sent to you, and can also be made available to teachers, physicians, and therapists upon your written request.  Our experience suggests that participating is often a fun and valuable experience for parents as well as children.

Will participating help others?

As well as providing potential benefits to you and your child, this type of research is critical to helping understand how babies learn and how we might best help those babies who have difficulty learning.   Many participants find it very fulfilling to contribute to such research.

Do I have to complete the study once I begin?

While we hope that you will enjoy your participation, you are free to withdraw your child from the study at any time and for any reason.

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