A paper co-authored by Assistant Professor of Psychology Vik Bejjanki was recently published in the peer-reviewed, open access journal Nature Communications.
For several years, Bejjanki has been working with researchers at Yale to develop methods for collecting functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from awake infants in order to examine learning and cognition in the first years of life.
The use of fMRI to learn about the inner workings of the developing, preverbal mind presents many challenges — not limited to motion, short attention span, and the inability to understand and follow instructions — when used to study infants when they are awake. For this reason, most studies involved sleeping or sedated infants, the researchers said.
“Re-imagining fMRI for awake behaving infants” presents the results of a project that they hope will lead to the adoption and refinement of awake infant fMRI and allow improvements in the study of active infant cognition including visual perception, memory encoding, and decision-making.
Bejjanki and his fellow researchers say that “given our limited understanding of the infant brain, and the success of fMRI in adults, infant fMRI has the potential to provide revolutionary insights into the origins and nature of the human mind.”
The group is also working on several papers that will describe results they have obtained using their fMRI data collection methods.