Little kids wanted for cool research at Cal

Cognitive studies at Cal's Baby Lab
Years ago, I wrote about getting your baby a job as a scientist and I stand by that recommendation. I first learned about the super cool research studies in the Infant Cognition Lab (AKA Berkeley Early Learning Lab) as a very rookie parent when a friend handed me a dogeared copy of Alison Gopnik’s The Scientist in the Crib. If you haven’t read it, let me just skip to the part where the team of neuro-scientists convinced me that babies are doing experiments ON US all the time!

Ever since that moment, I wanted to register my small person to be a human guinea pig in these experiments, and I’m pleased to report that we’ve done it and enjoyed it! In the past seven years, I have watched studies through the glass and sat under a baby in a chair with my eyes closed (because a baby tends to look where mama looks even when he can’t see her!) and I’ve loved every minute of it.

Our contributor, Becky, has also had a few years of positive experience as a parent of research subject and shared her photos with us. In the top picture, her baby daughter is doing a ping pong ball study. In this lower picture, the room is expanding and contracting while the researchers assess whether a one year old cares about such things (or even notices!). Whoa, right?

She writes more about her experiences with kids and research at UC Berkeley on her personal blog.

Cognitive studies at Cal's Baby Lab

I’m happy to tell you that the current studies are not just on babies. The teams are looking for children up to age nine right now, and their needs shift all the time.

If you and your child would like to contribute to the scientific knowledge of early learning, you should sign up and the team at baby lab will let you know if there’s a fit.

Berkeley Early Learning Lab investigates language acquisition, how children perceive the world, how they play and look at new items. A typical study takes about 15-30 minutes, but parents should plan on an hour including parking and paperwork. Participating children receive a diploma along with a t-shirt or toy. For more info and to register, see

Have any of you participated in these studies before? So fun, right? 

[Photo credit: Becky Matthews, all rights reserved]

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  1. Cara says

    Landis did one — it was fun! Then when given a choice of toys, books, or tshirts to pick out, he picked a pink tshirt and they said “I don’t think a kid has ever picked the shirt before.” Kid loved clothes and snuggling them at that point.
    I also was not allowed to take any pictures or share info about the study with anyone.