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Parents: 'Why we are lending our children's brains to science'

PUBLISHED: 16:04 15 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:04 15 June 2019

Lisa Horton and her daughter Suki who is taking part in The Brain Study at the UEA. Picture: staff

Lisa Horton and her daughter Suki who is taking part in The Brain Study at the UEA. Picture: staff

Archant

The parents of youngsters taking part in a study to find out how children's brains develop have shared the reasons why they put them forward for the project.

Tim Clare, with Lisa Horton and their daughter Suki who is taking part in The Brain Study. Picture: StaffTim Clare, with Lisa Horton and their daughter Suki who is taking part in The Brain Study. Picture: Staff

The Brain Study at the University of East Anglia is investigating how visual working memory develops in children.

The $1.8m research project, involving more than 150 families, assesses children's development by measuring their eye movement and brain activity when they are shown visual stimulus.

children taking part are enrolled from six months old and are in the study for two years, during which time they take part in various lab visits and have an MRI scan.

Tim Clare, whose two-year-old daughter Suki is taking part, said he was extremely proud of his daughter. He said: "I know for her it doesn't feel like it but she's helping us to understand ourselves and that is an amazing contribution. It's quite emotional to see your child all wired up to a machine, she seems quite grown up.

Professor John Spencer, who is leading The Brain Study at the UEA. Picture: StaffProfessor John Spencer, who is leading The Brain Study at the UEA. Picture: Staff

"It seems quite profound, I'm just quite excited for her to be involved: she can tell it's important and that's really exciting as well."

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Alex Stone from Norwich, whose 16-month old daughter Phoebe is involved, said they chose to take part when they received a letter from their doctor.

She said: "It's been really interesting. We're really looking forward to the next bit. "It didn't worry me at all: my mum got a bit upset when she saw pictures of Phoebe taking part, but Phoebe didn't care whatsoever - she's such a happy little thing, she takes it all in her stride."

Hannah Jackson, whose 18-month old son Joshua is taking part, said: "I've just found it really interesting and the study could help other children. Any research which helps [us understand] how children develop can only be a good thing."

Prof John Spencer, who is leading the study, said: "The commitment on the part of the families is amazing, they are all universally wonderful.

"It's a really unique project...we're really diving deep into one particular system in children's working memory, but we're also getting a really broad snapshot.

"We measure sleeping behaviour, how much language input the children get, so we're looking deep into how working memory develops and the support systems which support that cognitive system."

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