Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Baby MEG Study, Part II

One year ago, Junior participated in a baby MEG study. The study required him to sleep on a little bed, with the top of his head ensconced in a little hollow within the neuroimaging machine. At 13 months, he was a reliable twice-a-day napper, so we scheduled the study for his morning nap. However, being in a new environment with lots of unfamiliar, very businesslike people distracted him from his routine. The study coordinator and I spent an hour trying to soothe him, and eventually he fell asleep. Five minutes later, the research team requested that I scooch his head just a little bit more into the hollow. That woke him up, ended the study, and we walked out of there with enough money to fund many new baby outfits. So...worth it!

Note: MEG stands for magnetoencephalography. Here is further reading, if you wish, ducklings.

On Monday we went back. The study was different this time, since Junior can now follow instructions. First, they attached some sensors:

Next, they scanned his head with an instrument that looks like a handheld barcode reader. The corresponding 3D image appeared on a nearby laptop, because we live in the future. Then, when the team was ready, we went into the sealed room where the machine lay. "Our old nemesis," Junior and I said, in unison.

He lay down, and his head was almost too big for the hollow space this time around. A monitor hung from the ceiling above his feet. For the study, he had to keep his eyes on the center of the screen as images flashed and the baby MEG scanned his brain activity.

And, thank goodness, he was perfect. He dutifully watched the images, limiting his disruptive activities to picking his nose and lifting his legs to touch his toes (which blocked his line of sight). There were maybe 10 videos, each one ranging from 15 seconds to one minute in length. The images were tiny and I had trouble identifying all of them. So I used that as a way to keep Junior interested, asking him, "Does that one look like a polar bear or a snowman?" and "That must be a garden gnome! Do you know what a garden gnome is?" Shapes showed up, too, in various locations onscreen (e.g. to the right instead of in the center) depending on the video file.

Things started to look a little dicey about halfway through, as Junior became more squirmy (remember: he's two!) and started demanding to see videos of trucks instead. The researchers obliged by pulling up another window for some YouTube goodness. After every image video, he got to watch maybe 20 seconds of trucks. I also lied promised him that he could watch all the videos he wanted when we got back home.

When we finished, the study coordinator gushed that it "went really well!" As our reward, we got two gift cards. I plan to use them to buy Junior some new jeans, since he's outgrown a couple of pairs. And, y'know, momma might need a li'l something for transporting him to and from the study via my legs. New shoes, perhaps?

I took Junior to a nearby playground to stretch his legs:
For both of us, it was the perfect end to the morning.

TL;DR: Junior did a study FOR SCIENCE!!!


This post is brought to you by my sudden realization that the year's almost over! Aiyah!