Child Thinking




Lab Opportunities

For Parents

Contact Us

Department of Psychology
UC San Diego

9500 Gilman Drive

La Jolla, CA 92093-0109




Welcome to the UCSD Child Think Lab's Page for Parents!

Child Child

Our lab is interested in how developing minds and brains acquire conceptual knowledge. The focus of our research is in the developmental origins of young children's understanding of people and the social world. We use child-friendly, age-appropriate games and stories to study children's explanations and predictions of other people's actions.

Parents, Contact Us to Participate in These Studies!

Games and Stories with Children in Preschools, Schools, Museums, and the Lab

We are grateful to work with many generous local preschools and schools for some of our studies. We are also grateful to work with the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and Birch Aquarium, who generously let us set up tables to run quick studies with child visitors. We present children with different story scenarios and ask them questions about the stories. Let us know if your preschool, school, or museum would like to participate in studies with children. For some studies, children visit the lab to participate.

Brain Wave Studies with Children in the Lab

Child Children visit the lab to participate in studies that explore the brain wave patterns of children when they think and reason about different things. We do this with a soft, elastic net with small sponge sensors that records brain activity. Our sensors are in wet sponges and we do not use any gel, so it's comfortable for the children to wear.

While wearing the net, children will view cartoon drawings on a computer screen and listen to short stories about the characters. And we ask children questions about the stories. From our experience working with young children in similar research studies, almost all children are enthusiastic about participating and do not feel any discomfort throughout the entire study.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about brain wave studies


  • The net has small sensors in sponges that rest on the child or adult participant’s head.

  • The sensors themselves do not touch the head, only the sponges come into contact with the child or adult participant’s head.

  • All materials that come into contact with the child or adult participant have been sterilized.

  • This procedure in completely non-invasive – all recording is done on the surface of the head (it’s not like an X-ray).

  • The sensors are recording the child or adult participant’s brain waves as they are naturally occurring – the sensors do not change anything, just recording.

  • The brain generates neural activity as it thinks, and we are just recording that.

  • If the child or adult participant wants to stop at any point or doesn’t want to wear the net, that’s okay, we can stop the study at any point.