Infant Action Cognition Lab at StFX

Infant action cognition lab IACL stfx

Have you heard of the Infant Action Cognition Lab (IACL)? Infants 4-months and older, and their parent/guardian residing in Antigonish and surrounding areas, can volunteer in a fun research study at our child-friendly lab at the St. Francis Xavier University!

Our studies involve exploring toy objects and watching others explore objects on our eye tracker, to help us learn about how infants learn! We investigate how babies learn to understand and perform actions as well as how babies understand the actions of others around them. This information can be useful in helping us understand what babies know about things like an object’s weight, or motion such as walking. It can also help to inform interventions in the future to facilitate learning.

You can set up an appointment for anytime that works for you and your baby (usually 9:00-4:00pm Monday to Friday, but we are flexible).

The studies take place in J. Bruce Brown (Biology building) and we have free designated parking available.

Heres’ what to expect:

As you pull into the parking lot off Notre Dame Avenue, you will be greeted by a lab member who will provide a parking pass and direct you to the nearest parking space. The lab member may be one of our friendly senior researchers or undergraduate research assistants, and if you want, will help you carry things while accompanying you to our research lab (room 334B).

Once you and your baby are ready, we will review the study with you and give you the opportunity to ask any questions you might have. You will also be told that your participation is strictly confidential, and that you are welcome to withdraw from the study at any point if you wish. After you’ve signed a study consent form, we will have you fill out a brief demographics form asking some very general information (e.g., age of siblings). Then we will begin the study! Most studies are 20-30 minutes but could range up to 60 minutes.

IACL Eyetracker
IACL Eyetracker

Throughout the study, we can take breaks as you or your baby may need. Diaper changes and feeding are welcome at any time. We have a diaper changing station and are a breastfeeding friendly environment. We can also accommodate for other children (e.g., older siblings) that have accompanied you to the appointment.

Most studies involve sitting with your baby on your lap as they explore an object or having your baby watch a short video clip (45-90 seconds) while we track their eye movements. For some studies, we apply reflective markers over areas of your baby’s arms or legs so that we can measure how they are moving. For example, we do a study about stepping experience where we would have you support your baby’s weight over a baby treadmill while they take steps with reflective markers on their legs so we can learn about their movement patterns. All of our studies are intended to be a positive and playful experience for babies!

This information can be useful to help facilitate learning during caregiver-infant interactions and help design interventions for infants at-risk for developmental delays.

IACL stfx 3
IACL stfx 4

At the end of the appointment, you will be offered a certificate with your baby’s picture on it as a keepsake.

The overall theme of work in the lab is to investigate how babies learn to understand and perform actions (e.g., with toys, or walking), as well as understand the actions of others around them.

The two competing ideas that we evaluate with our studies are: Do babies only understand other peoples’ actions after they have learned to do the actions themselves (i.e., “that person is like me”)? Or, do babies need to first understand other peoples’ actions before they can learn to carry out the action themselves (i.e., “I’m like you”).

Interested in volunteering? Contact us at (902) 867-5411 to up an appointment.

Megan MacGillivray PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Infant Action and Cognition Lab |  ANChoR Lab
StFX University | Department of Psychology 
Phone 902-867-5411

IACL stfx 5

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