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About us

At McMaster University, we study how babies learn to see, hear, speak, and interact with other people. Infants and their parents have been participating in these studies at McMaster for over 30 years now, and the research from these studies is widely quoted in medical journals, parenting magazines, and textbooks. Parents are with their babies at all times and the studies are designed to be easy, short and fun. Free parking is provided and siblings are always welcome.

McMaster University researchers have discovered from research...

Upcoming Studies

Online Movement Study See Study Poster

The Auditory Development Lab at McMaster University is looking for enthusiastic 9- to 12-year-olds to participate in an online movement study! Your child will learn a simple step-clap movement and we will record videos while they clap along to various sounds and songs. This study will be conducted entirely online through the platform LookIt and will only take approximately 35 minutes. Your child will need a clear space to move in and access to a computer with a webcam. To register your child, please create a LookIt profile using the QR code above or use the following link: Our study can be found under the title “Children’s Step Clap” or at Participants will be compensated with a $5 Amazon gift card! If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

Rhythm Study for 6 month-olds See Study Poster

The Auditory Development Lab at McMaster University is looking for 5- and 6-month-old infants to participate in an in-person rhythm study!

We are interested in how babies perceive sound and how their brain groups musical beats. One of the ways we study this is by measuring natural brain activity (EEG) in response to sounds, using a comfortable net of sensors that will be placed on your child’s head. This method is completely safe and non-invasive, and your child will be on your lap at all times. We will record up to 20 minutes of your child’s natural brain activity while he/she sits on your lap and listens to a series of musical sounds through a speaker in the room. There will also be a video with colourful shapes for them to look at. The entire procedure should take approximately 1 hour.

If you are interested in participating with your child, or have questions, please contact Erica Flaten, PhD Researcher:

Too young for our study? Contact us anyways! We would love to add your child to our database and let you know when your child reaches an age we are looking for!

Musical Preference Study See Study Poster

The Auditory Development Lab is looking for 7- to 18-month-olds to participate in our on-campus musical preference study.

We are interested in whether infants show the same preference for rhythms in music as adults and older children.  In this study, your baby will be able to tell us what types of rhythms they prefer by choosing different musical rhythms they listen to using a touchscreen tablet!

This study will help us understand how the perception of musical rhythm develops in infants.

If you and your child are interested in participating or have any questions, please contact Dr. Daniel Cameron ( or Nicole Caldarone (

Too young for our study? Contact us anyways! We would love to add your child to our database and let you know when your child reaches an age we are looking for!

Learn More About our Researchers

Auditory Development Lab Learn More

Dr. Laurel J. Trainor, Director

Susan Marsh-Rollo, Research Assistant
905-525-9140 x27114,

Elaine Whiskin, Research Assistant
905-525-9140 x24797

Under the direction of Dr. Laurel Trainor, the Auditory Development Lab studies how infants hear and respond to speech and music. We are interested in what auditory skills infants possess, how these skills develop, and how we can develop measures to identify children in early infancy who may be at risk for later language or reading problems.

Visual Development Lab Learn More

Dr. Gabriel(Naiqi) Xiao, Director

Research Assistant
905-525-9140 x 23130

Dr. Gabriel (Naiqi) Xiao is studying how infants’ cognitive capacities are shaped by what they see and what they hear in everyday lives. Understanding such mechanisms that drives development will help us detect atypical development at early stages of life.

Social Development and Autism Lab Learn More

Dr. Mel Rutherford, Director

Research Assistant
905-525-9140 x26032

Dr. Mel Rutherford is interested in how children learn about the social world around them and how they develop the skills needed to be a part of it, as well as early markers of autism. If your baby has a sibling diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, you are eligible for our early autism study! This research will help us develop a fast and easy screening tool for autism in a child’s first year.

Child Emotion Lab Learn More

Dr. Louis Schmidt, Director

Research Assistant
905-525-9140 x24798

Babies experience all the primary emotions of joy, anger and fear during the first months of life. Because the ability to regulate emotions plays an important role in development during infancy and early school years, Dr. Louis Schmidt’s Child Emotion Lab studies how babies regulate their emotions.

Developmental Neuroscience Lab Learn More

Dr. Geoff Hall, Director

Research Assistant
905-525-9140 x24784

The activities of the Developmental Neuroscience lab focus on conducting multidisciplinary research in the rapidly growing field of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. By studying the neurological mechanisms that underlie changes in cognitive and affective function across development we hope to improve our understanding of both typical and atypical development.