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Department of Cognitive Science

Information for Parents

Why is child MEG important ?

Child participating in MEG studyMEG measures the magnetic fields generated by the brain whenever information is processed. The brain's magnetic fields are 100 million times smaller than the magnetic field of the earth -- so it is like trying to measure the footsteps of an ant, at a rock concert. Extremely sensitive sensors are used to measure these tiny magnetic fields. We can therefore see how a child's brain responds when s/he is reading, looking at pictures or listening to real words vs non-words.

The child MEG system allows researchers to explore phenomenon such as language acquisition and auditory processing in children who are too young to participate in behavioural studies. This opens up a whole new world for researchers as information can now be gathered at the earlier stages of development.

Photo Credit: Photowrite


Is MEG Safe?

The child MEG system is a completely safe and non-invasive way to measure brain activity.

What is MEG?

You might like to read about MEG with your child in this kids-friendly science article written by Dr Jon Brock and Dr Paul Sowman:
MEG for Kids: Listening to Your Brain with Super-Cool SQUIDs. Frontiers for Young Minds, 2:10. doi: 10.3389/frym.2014.00010

MEG Space Adventure, a child friendly experience

Child dressed as astronautIn order to make the child MEG experience as child friendly as possible we have created the idea of an MEG space adventure. The child MEG system is the space ship that will take your child to a strange planet where they might get to go on a treasure hunt or watch some cartoons. Their mission is to listen to the instructions from ground control through the special earphones within the space ship.

There is enough room in the MSR (the magnetically shielded room where both the adult and child MEG systems are housed) for you to stay with your child the entire time. We have cameras in the room so we can see inside at all times as well as a microphone so we can communicate with you throughout the whole process. We have developed work booklets that contain activities and list the steps involved both for you and your child's benefit. We also have prizes and certificates given out to each child that participates to show that they are a qualified MEG astronaut.

We take time to get to know your child before we proceed with the study. We play games and let you and your child look around the lab so that you both feel comfortable.

Your child can watch our Kermit the frog puppet go through all of the steps before they do.

You can go inside the shielded room with your child at the time of testing. One of our researchers will stay inside the room to play the games with your child, too. If you prefer, you can stay outside and watch and talk to your child while we are playing with them inside the shielded room.

What's involved if my child takes part?

Child play sessionAll of our studies are completely voluntary. If you are interested in taking part the first step is to contact us. We can answer any of your questions and arrange a time for you to come to the lab.

The purpose of the first visit is so that you and your child can become familiar with the researchers and the equipment we use. We do this through free play and a variety of activities. If you then decide to take part we will ask you to come back again so that we can begin the actual experiment. You will be paid for each visit and you may pull out of participation at any time without providing us with a reason.

Please note that any magnetic materials on your child's clothing or body (eg. hair clips, glittery clothing, wrist watches) must be removed prior to the study commencing. If magnetic material is permanently fixed to your child’s body (eg. Plates, screws, dental work) then unfortunately they are not eligible to participate in a study using MEG.

As MEG requires the participant to lie in an enclosed room we advise people who experience claustrophobia not to take part in an MEG study.

Who do I contact to take part

If you have any additional questions please contact:

Further Information


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