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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.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

We welcome any children under the age of 12 to register in our database! Although our current studies mainly focus on infants from 0 to 3 years old, there will be opportunities in the future for you and your child to participate in new studies that fit your criteria.

Currently, most of our studies are conducted online. However, we will be resuming in-person studies very soon. There will be opportunities for you and your child to participate in studies in-person at our lab space on campus! The majority of our studies require only one visit, but a few of the studies require that you visit on more than one occasion. The duration of each visit is usually between 30 to 45 minutes, with some studies lasting up to one and half hours.

At McMaster University, we have a developmental studies database where information is often collected from parents at hospitals, social media sign-up forms, or other events. We have your information because at some point in the past you expressed interest in these studies and signed up. Sometimes it was years before and people forget. If you wish to remove your information for eligibility in the future, please reach out to us. We will respect your decision and are grateful for your time.

Yes, we welcome your child(ren) to participate in any study he/she is eligible for. Our system will notify us of any ongoing studies your child may be eligible for, and an experimenter will contact you to schedule an appointment. We are always thankful for you and your child’s time and involvement in our studies! If you do not wish to participate at the time we call you, you may decline, and we will call you for the next available study. If you wish to be removed from our calling list at any time, please let us know, and you will no longer receive further communication from us.

No. You will be with your baby during the entire study session and throughout your trip into the lab. For studies with older children, you can choose whether to stay in the room or not.

You or your child may choose a small age-appropriate toy or gift card and will receive a personalized Junior Scientist certificate when the study is complete. Free parking is provided on campus, and bus fare will be refunded if applicable.