Our Research Methods

What is fMRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive technique that was developed at Stony Brook University by Paul C. Lauterbur in the 1970's. MRI machines can create structural and functional images of the brain without using radiation. Structural images allow us to examine snapshots of the brain to examine possible abnormalities in anatomical structure, while functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) allows us to examine patterns of blood flow in the brain. FMRI is invaluable to our research because it allows us to examine regions in the brain that become more active during certain tasks, since blood flow to these regions are different than the rest of the brain. 

what is eye-tracking?

Eye-tracking is a non-invasive technique that allows us to measure eye activity. The eye-tracker itself is table mounted and looks like a small box sitting at the computer. It consists of a video camera and an infrared light source pointed at the eyes of our study participants to track the location and size of pupil and corneal reflection. By using an eye-tracker, we can study eye movement, pupil dilation, and gaze fixations. This information leads to outstanding implications, helping us to understand human behavior by investigating the cognitive, perceptual, emotional, and motor processing that people use when they complete tasks. By studying gaze patterns and pupil dilations during specific tasks, we can understand a range of human behaviors from acceptance and rejection feedback to aggressive tendencies and much more. 


Electroencephalogram (EEG) measures electrical activity that occurs in the brain. The cells in your brain communicate by sending one another electrical impulses.  These impulses happen very quickly and occur all the time. By using EEG, we can study how different parts of the brain communicate with one another on a very short, almost instantaneous, time scale. Learning how the brain communicates under different circumstances will help us better understand how brain function changes across development, and may vary across individuals who have different types of characteristics.  To measure this electrical activity, individuals wear a special cap that has small disks, called electrodes, which rest on the scalp. These signals are amplified and then stored in a computer. EEG is an entirely non-invasive method of obtaining physiological data.



Since our primary goal is to understand social development, we study populations of all ages, ranging from children to adults.