Israel21c is reporting that researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, together with their colleagues at the University of Oregon, have enrolled fifty babies into a study to figure out what is going on in their heads:
“The overall direction of our work is to look for the development of executive attention and cognitive functions in babies. The way I decided to do it was to connect it to the babies’ perception of quantities,” Berger [Ben-Gurion University researcher Dr. Andrea Berger -ed.] told ISRAEL21c.
Berger may be conducting basic research, but her work and the cutting-edge technological tools she is using to conduct it could someday be harnessed to detect developmental problems or learning disabilities during infancy and therefore allow intervention to begin earlier…
Using a warm salt-water solution, Berger’s carefully trained team attaches to each baby’s head a shower cap-like covering called a ‘geodesic-net’, which consists of 128 electrodes woven together. The electrodes transmit the electricity to a computer, which displays the brain activity.
The ERP technique enables the analysis of the electrophysiological responses measured from the scalp as a response to a certain event or stimulus.
ERPs provide unique and important timing information about brain processing. Mental operations, such as those involved in language processing, and memory, takes place tens of milliseconds. While other brain imaging techniques are unable to capture the precise sequence of these operations, ERP recordings are unique in that they are able to provide a millisecond-by-millisecond reflection of evoked brain activity.
For this reason, ERPs are an ideal methodology for studying the timing aspects of both normal and abnormal cognitive processes, and are increasingly popular as a tool for researchers.
Berger was the first to bring the geodesic-net ERP tool to Israel when she began using it in her lab – since then, two more Israeli universities have acquired it. Using the technique, she says “We are able to identify the exact millisecond when the baby is presented with an impossible event, and we can examine the brainwaves and the pattern of activity.”