Welcome to the Yale Knowledge of Infant Development Study! (Yale KIDS)

Thank you for your interest in our study! Yale KIDS is a joint effort between the Child Neuroscience Lab and the Developmental Electrophysiology Lab at the Yale Child Study Center. By participating in our study, you can help us understand how the brain develops in the first year of life. Please click on the MRI, NIRS, and EEG tabs to learn more.

Who can participate?

We are interested in enrolling newborns and babies up to 12 months of age. We are interested in infants with no family history of developmental disabilities as well as infants with a sibling with developmental disabilities. Feel free to contact our lab for more information!

Erin MacDonnell

Phone: (203) 737-3439

Email: erin.macdonnell@yale.edu

Welcome to Baby Discovery Program

Thank you for your interest in our infant MRI study. The goal of our study is to understand how the brain develops in the first year of life and how this development may be disrupted in children who go on to develop autism. Some of the questions we are interested in are:

  • What parts of the brain are active when babies listen to speech?
  • Does the brain respond differently to speech as babies get older?
  • Do infants with autism have a different pattern of brain activity in response to speech?
Answers to these questions will be an important step towards understanding how infants learn language, how this process may be disrupted in autism, and how to best detect and treat autism early in life.


What is MRI? Is it safe?
infant picture

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a technique commonly used by doctors and scientists to see inside of the brain using a magnet. In our project we take pictures of how the brain works while infants are asleep listening to sounds such as speech. This is a safe and painless procedure that is used on people of all ages.

Please click here for additional information on fMRI.

What will happen on the day of my visit?

Movement prevents the MRI machine from taking a clear picture of the brain. To prevent this, we scan babies when they are asleep naturally so that they are less likely to move. We will try to schedule an appointment for you that coincides with your baby's normal naptime or bedtime.
infant picture


Our lab is equipped with a rocking chair, blankets, and other materials that might help your baby fall asleep. Once your child falls asleep we will be ready to start the scan. Because the scanner makes a lot of noise your child will wear pediatric earplugs and headphones.

Parents are welcome to stay in the MRI room with their baby throughout the experiment. A research assistant will also be in the room with your child at all times.

Who can participate in this study?

We are particularly interested in infants under 12 months of age. We invite both infants without a family history of autism as well as those with an older sibling with autism to participate. If you have young children who are not within this age range we would still be very interested in hearing from you so that we can let you know about future studies that you may be eligible for.

How long does the study take?

We typically schedule 2-hour visits so that your baby has plenty of time to fall asleep. The actual experiment takes less than 30 minutes to complete. Interested families are welcome to come back for additional visits so that we can track their baby's development over time.

What happens if my child doesn't fall asleep?

infant picture
It is completely normal for your baby to be unable to fall asleep in a strange environment. If your child does not fall asleep we may decide not to attempt the scan. If interested, you are welcome to come back for a second attempt.

Can I bring my other children to the appointment?

Yes, our research assistants can baby-sit your children in our play area during your infant's scan.

Are there benefits to participating in this study?

By participating in this study you will help advance knowledge about brain development in typically-developing children and children with autism. We hope that this research will help advance treatments and improve the lives of children with autism.

Will I be compensated for my time?

Families will receive $50 per visit and $10 for transportation costs. Your baby will also receive a t-shirt and a photo of their brain as a token of our appreciation.

Thank you for your interest in our infant Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) study. The goal of our study is to understand how the brain develops in the first year of life and how this development may be disrupted in children who go on to develop autism. Some of the questions we are interested in answering are:

  • What parts of the brain are active when babies are experiencing affective touch?
  • What parts of the brain are active when babies are viewing biological motion using point light displays?
  • Do infants with autism have a different pattern of brain activity in response to affective touch or biological motion?
Answers to these questions will be an important step towards understanding how infants respond to the social world around them, how this process may be disrupted in autism, and how to best detect and treat autism early in life.


What is NIRS? Is it safe? infant picture

Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) is a technique that is very helpful for teaching us about how the brain works. Your child will wear a hat with optodes (made of soft rubber) that is connected to the machine by long wires. The NIRS machine measures the amount of time light takes to travel through the brain. This machine is soundless, painless, and considered safe by the Yale Human Investigation Committee (HIC).

Where will my child sit?

The NIRS optodes are very mobile so we can move the machine around the room. Your infant will be comfortably sitting in an infant bouncer (one that vibrates to calm them) or an infant car seat depending on your preference. They will be viewing Baby Mozart clips to keep them occupied.

Who can participate in this study?

We are particularly interestedinBaby with Optodes side view infants under 12 months of age. We invite both infants without a family history of autism as well as those with an older sibling with autism to participate. If you have young children who are not within this age range we would still be very interested in hearing from you so that we can let you know about future studies that you may be eligible for.

How long does the study take?

We typically schedule 1-hour visits so that your baby has plenty of time to get comfortable. The actual experiment takes less than 30 minutes to complete. infant pictureInterested families are welcome to come back for additional visits so that we can track their baby's development over time.

Can I bring my other children to the appointment?

Yes, our research assistants can baby-sit your children in our play area during your infant's scan.

Are there benefits to participating in this study?

By participating in this study you will help advance knowledge about brain development in typically-developing children and children with autism. We hope that this research will help advance treatments and improve the lives of children with autism.

Will I be compensated for my time?

Families will receive $25 for one hour and $35 for 1.5 hours depending on how long the visit takes. Your baby will also receive a t-shirt as a token of our appreciation.

What are brain waves?
Brain waves are the electrical activity produced by the brain. They are recorded by wearing a soft, flexible cap. Recording is safe and painless and an easy way to study brain function in infants.

EEG study

What happens during a visit?
When you arrive, you and your child will be given time to get used to the staff and setting by playing with toys, reading, or having a snack. We will walk you through the experience and answer any questions you might have. When it is time for the recording, we will ask you to sit in a chair with your child in your lap. We will entertain your baby with toys and bubbles, and place the cap on his or her head when he or she is comfortable.

You and your baby will watch pictures and videos on a computer screen and listen to different sounds. The entire visit will be less than one hour long.

Who can participate?
We invite families who are expecting or families with infants younger than eighteen months of age. If you have other children, please feel free to bring them along. Our staff will be happy to watch them during the visit. If they are interested in learning about their brain waves, we may have studies they could enroll in as well!

Why should I participate?
You and your child can help us learn about how the brain changes during the first year of life. This will help us detect and treat developmental problems like autism earlier in childhood. You will be compensated $25 for your visit, and we will reimburse you for parking.

How can I get involved?
If you would like to learn more about brain waves and opportunities to participate in our research, please contact
the McPartland Lab at:

Phone: 203-737-4586
Email: mcp.lab@yale.edu

To learn more about our work and our labs, please visit the Developmental Electrophysiology Laboratory website!

EEG study 2

Feel free to contact our lab for more information
Phone: (203) 737-4525
Email: info@pelphreylab.com