Learning Something Really Exciting (If You Like Science)

This past week, I got to do something really exciting: I learned how to clean EEG data.  Most of you are probably now rereading the first sentence with a lot of supposed sarcasm, but I’m not joking.  I really did think it was exciting.  My project coordinator taught me how to identify bad electrodes, vertical eye movements, and horizontal eye movements in the lines of EEG data.  I already knew what they looked like from the data collection when we show the participants their brain waves, but there was something markedly different about identifying them today in training.  Maybe it’s because cleaning the data gets our lab one step closer to seeing what, exactly, all of the many hours we have all spent recruiting and running participants has led up to.  Or, maybe I just really, really love science, and I think it’s incredible that a program like this exists and that I get to use it.

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W&M Child Development Lab – Psychology Study

My name is Sarah Volz, and I am a rising sophomore here at W&M. This past year, Professors Forestell and Dickter were kind enough to allow me to work in their lab in the Psychology Department. We used questionnaires, an EEG study, and a variety of computer tasks to assess children and parents’ reactions to smoking and alcohol related cues. As a Neuroscience major, this lab appealed to me because it has more aspects of what I consider to be more substantial science (EEG recordings) instead of just questionnaires, which may be unreliable because of the self-reports and the presence of the interviewer. I also found this lab really interesting because we collect data from children and adults. While the adults are usually easier and faster to run, the kids are much more fun and frequently entertain the interviewer by regaling them with (mostly unrelated) stories. This summer, I will continue to run participants to collect and analyze data. Eventually, after collecting all of the data for this three-year study, we will write and publish a scientific peer-reviewed manuscript discussing our findings.