Friday, October 15, 2010

Yale cognition studies

You may remember Scarlett participating in some cognition studies when she was an infant and young toddler. (If not, click here and click here) Since he was 3 months, Holden has been participating at the same infant cognition center that Scarlett used to attend, and Scarlett has graduated to the Tiger lab and the Elephant lab. These are the "big kid" cognition centers. All three of the cognition centers are in the same building, so when we're asked to participate in a particular study we usually coordinate it so that both Holden and Scarlett can do studies at the same time and then Joe and I go in different directions with a kid and usually have pretty interesting stories to tell afterwards. Both the kids had studies last night.
Holden's study immediately put 8 bowls of snack food in front of him (to determine his preference) and he immediately started shoving food in his face so fast that they couldn't determine anything and so they tried to take the food away from him to start over (not knowing what happens if you try to take food from Holden) and, as Joe described it, all hell broke loose. So, basically, they determined that Holden liked to eat.
Scarlett's studies are now a bit different. I don't go into the rooms with her anymore. Instead, I watch what she does on a little TV monitor and listen with headphones. Her studies reveal a bit more about her personality than the infant studies did. Yesterday's study put about 6 pairs of stuff in front of her - each pair had a working item and a broken item. (There were 2 cups for example, one was fine and one was broken. 2 markers, one wrote and one was dried up and didn't.) The first 5 minutes of the study was spent with one woman determining which items worked and which ones didn't. Then a second woman walked into the room and asked that Scarlett help her "throw out the trash." The idea is that the woman will point to the working object in each pair and ask that Scarlett pass it to her so that they can throw it in the garbage - but they're wondering if Scarlett will intervene and pass her the broken item instead because, really, that IS the trash. Well...Scarlett did not pass the broken item to her. Scarlett did exactly as she was told and passed the woman every item that the woman asked for (I watched the whole thing on the monitor), which established that she is a kid who will do as she's told. When we got back to the car I asked Scarlett what she did (she didn't know I was watching) and she told me she threw stuff out. "What did you throw out?" I asked, acting surprised. "A cup" she answered, giggling, "and a marker." " threw out markers?" I asked, "Why?" "Because. [shrugs shoulders] The lady asked me to."
So yeah. It was determined that Scarlett was one of the kids who was "just plain old helpful." Hey. I'll take that.