I sighed up University of Toronto Mississauga campus the infant musical study lab with baby not long after her birth. I got a call last week from them to book an appointment today to go in with my six months old baby for the first time test.
We arrived on time at CCT building, 4th floor the infant and child studies lab. Micheal who was in charge of this test was waiting for us. He guided us to the lab and explained the test for us.
It was a simple test. Baby would sit down on my lap in a sound booth facing 3 computer monitors. Following a flashing red light on the center monitor, a short movie would be presented, baby would hear several short melodies played by one instrument. This would be followed by 12 trials to test their memory by comparing one of those melodies with a novel melody. Before each trial, the center monitor would flash to attract baby's attention and would turn off when baby looks. Baby would hear one song upon responding to a flashing monitor on the right and another upon responding to the falshing monitor on the left.Baby controls the time spent listening to each of the songs by her looking behavior-the song begins to play when baby looks at the monitor and turns off when baby looks away for longer than 2 seconds. Baby would have the opportunity to listen to each melody 6 times and the staff measure how long she listens to each one to determine if there was a preference for one melody over the other.
The mom (this is me) was asked to wear a headphones and listen to masking music to minimize the odds that I would influence my baby's perception of the songs they hear. The experimental procedure would take approximately 5-10 minutes.
There would not harm the baby and the result would not benefit baby but would help scientists understand more about the development of various aspects of auditory perception and memory.
Eventually, after the complicated explanation, we finished the test just as Micheal explained to us. And baby did an excellent job. She was calm and quiet for the whole period. I couldn't hear the melody that tested since I wearing a headphone but I saw her head turned to left, middle, right, she kept turning her heads. She was busy listening obviously.
At the end, Michael took a picture for her and immediately he produced a certificate with her picture,it says- University of Toronto Mississauga Infant And Child Studies proudly presents
-baby's name, with the honourable title of Junior Scientist in recognition of outstanding performance in a hearing reserch project which has contributed to the advancement of science and the understanding of child development. July 11,2012 presented by Dr. Sandra Trehub,Director of Research.
Hurray, we have a junior scientist. Not only she got a certificate, but also she got a gift as a prize-A t-shirt printing Junior Scientist, University of Toronto,wow, bravo!
Michael later explained that our baby was the third baby who did this test, the first baby did ok, the second baby was fussy and couldn't finish the test and she did very well. It is a new test so there is not much to tell yet but he did tell us that babies's hearing is more discriminating that their parents.
A reserch already showed that infants are much more musically savvy that you might think, and the music we play for them maybe be exactly what they don't need to be hearing.
We were glad that we did this test. And we would love to come again if there is a need.