What is fNIRS?

Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS, for short) is a brain imaging technique that lets us measure brain activity. It measures blood flow changes in the brain (the “hemodynamic response”) using infrared light, and then it uses that data to reflect brain activity and physiology. Our fNIRS system at the DEN Lab has several optodes. Some of them shine the infrared light into the scalp, and others detect how much light travels through. We use a cap similar to a swim cap with special holes to hold the optodes. We like our fNIRS system because it is very kid-friendly - it is small and quiet, and it works even when your child moves around!

What will happen during the study?

When you first come to the DEN Lab, our team will take some time to introduce the study to your family, show you around, and make sure your child is excited to participate! Our trained research assistants will then explain each game to your child so that they know exactly what to expect. Your child will get to watch a short Pixar film while we put the fNIRS cap on. We will do some practice to familiarize your child with the games. Once your child is ready to go, we will measure their brain activity using fNIRS as they play our fun and simple games. After we are done with the games, we will take some pictures of your child in the cap for you to take home as a souvenir! At the end of your visit, your child will receive a small prize, and your family will be compensated for your time. The fNIRS session takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes and each visit takes 1 to 2 hours in total.

Why do we need your help?

Our research focuses on the developing brain. With the help of you, your child, and many other participants, we can learn more about how children’s brains grow and learn. Our goal is to understand the brain mechanisms behind cognitive development, and how these differ across different learners. This helps scientists, educators, doctors, and many other people to better understand how children learn. Our ultimate goal is that research like ours will make a positive difference in the lives of children all around the world.