Guest post from Elliott Brock aged nearly 5
Last weekend, Elliott took part in a study that I’m running with my colleague, Yatin Mahajan. We’re using a technique called MEG (short for magnetoencephalography) to measure the magnetic signals produced by kids’ brains. I’m going to write more about MEG soon. But for now, here’s Elliott’s trip to the lab.
This is me getting ready to go in the spaceship. That’s a spacehelmet on my head. Yatin drew lines on top of it with a special pen. It made lots of dots on the screen.
The “spacehelmet” actually has some marker coils in it. We use the special pen to trace the shape of the child’s head and the position of the markers. When they’re in the MEG, we can locate the marker coils and then figure out exactly where the child’s head is.
This is me in the space rocket. I had to stay still and watch a movie. It was Cars 2.
It takes a couple of minutes to set things up, so we get the kids to watch a movie while we’re doing that. We can’t use normal headphones so we play sounds into the rubber tubes, which are then connected into little earbuds the child is wearing.
After that it was time to play the game with Yatin. I had to listen for animals and then if you press the button your truck would zoom and pick it up. I winned the game. I pressed the button lots of times and so I got all the animals. The space rocket scanned my brain.
This is our cunning way of getting kids to lie still and listen to sounds for 15 minutes. In this study we actually want them to attend to the sounds, so they have to listen out for animal noises. But what we actually care about are the brain responses to all the other sounds.
At the end, we do a simple hearing test.
I had to listen if I could hear a beep like this “Bip beep” and put my hand up so they can tell how good you’re hearing. It was really fun.
If you've got a budding astronaut (aged 3 to 5) and live in Sydney, Yatin will be very happy to hear from you!