What to Expect

What to expect in our perceptual studies

Upon Your Arrival

Once you arrive at the Baby Language Lab, you will be greeted by one of our research assistants and escorted to the play area. In the play area, you will be given a consent form to read and sign. This consent form will explain the details of the procedure and your rights as a research participant. If you have any questions at any time, you should feel free to ask the research assistant. Once the consent form is signed, you will be escorted with your infant into the testing room. If you have brought other children (e.g. siblings) with you, they will have to stay in the play area. We are always happy to provide supervision for siblings during the testing. Other adults who come with you may observe the experiment via closed circuit video at your discretion.


There are several different procedures that we perform in the Baby Language Lab. For additional details, please see our Research Methods. Most of these procedures are extremely short, but depend on your child’s particular interest in what they are seeing and hearing. You can expect to be in the testing room for less than 15 minutes, usually around 5 minutes. If you are doing a Bayley assessment, this may take up to an hour or more. Typically, you will be seated in the testing booth with your child in your lap, facing toward a video display. Your child will see a series of video clips or pictures, and hear different kinds of sounds. We are measuring your child’s interest in what they are seeing and hearing based on their looking behavior. You will probably be able to see the video display, but you will wear headphones that play music to “mask” the sounds that your child is hearing. This is done so that you do not accidentally influence your child’s behavior and is important for the scientific validity of the research. Normally, infants find participating to be a stimulating and enjoyable experience. Occasionally, they are excessively bored, fussy or frightened, in which case we stop the procedure immediately. Sometimes it is possible to take a quick break and resume. At other times, we will simply end the visit at that time. If this happens to you, please rest assured that your participation is still very much appreciated, we would welcome you back to the lab at another time.

What Happens Afterward?

When your child has completed the study, you may be asked to complete a voluntary questionnaire regarding your child’s language development if you have not already done so. Your child will then pick out a small gift from our toy chest as our thank-you for their participation in the study. We will be in contact at a later date to let you know how the study turned out, and you are welcome to call or email the lab at any time to ask how things are going. Please keep in mind that our findings are based on aggregate data across all our participants. This means two things. First, rest assured that we will never disclose any information about your child’s individual performance in the study. Second, the performance of an individual child in one of our studies does not provide meaningful information about that child’s development. If you are concerned about your child’s language development, please consult a health professional. You will be given the opportunity to put your name in our database to be called for future studies when your child reaches the appropriate age. Repeat customers are our best source of participants, so we try to make your experience an enjoyable one. Please let us know at any time if there is something we can improve on.