Infant Brain and Behavioral Development

Have you ever wondered how we develop into social beings?

And, if you have an infant younger than six months of age, this study is for you! We are measuring brain and behavioral development in healthy infants through the first years. We believe that examining brain and behavioral development across the first two years of life (e.g., measuring brain structure at multiple ages) will help us to predict the manifestation of complex cognitive skills and social communication functioning as the child approaches his/her third birthday. The ultimate goal of the study is to create a clear picture of the social brain networks responsible for behaviors through different developmental stages. Additionally, it will set the foundation to predict individual differences in behaviors that support adaptive social and cognitive functioning.

More specific details about the study: Parents will complete standardized questionnaires and semi-structured interviews regarding their child’s behavior. Infants will participate in age and skill-appropriate games designed to understand cognitive and social cognitive development. Simple games such as peekaboo provide information about social-emotional development (e.g., anticipatory smiling, sustained attention, etc.). Some of the games include watching animations on a computer monitor. Others include play-based interaction with engaging staff members designed to characterize developmental level or developmental milestones. To study brain development, we use Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to take detailed photographs of the brain. This is not invasive and is safe. Your child will always be sleeping naturally during the scans. Participation is voluntary and no direct risk is associated with any research in the ELAB.

This research is funded by a BRAINS award from the National Institute of Mental Health and approved by the University of Minnesota Biomedical Institutional Review Board (#1404M50043).