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How Your Child Can Participate in a MIT Health Study? And Get Smarter.

MIT has developed an Early Childhood Cognition Laboratory (ECCL). Lookit ( Lookit works as a new approach in developmental psychology: bringing the experiments to you as the parent. MIT’s online studies are quick, and let you as a parent contribute to their collective understanding of children’s learning.

You might remember the marshmallow experiment. A series of Stanford studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s led by psychologist Walter Mischel.

In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned. (The reward was sometimes a marshmallow, but often a cookie or a pretzel.) In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures.”

#1 What is it?

Lookit employs MIT trained researchers who have been approved to work on the “Lookit” project will watch the video segments you send to mark down information specific to the study–for instance, what your child said, or how long he/she looked to the left versus the right of the screen.

The researchers will also look at the following:

  • What abilities are genetic and what abilities are learned
  • How are mathematical skillsets developed and improved over the childhood phase
  • The particular strategy your child uses in data comprehension

#2 How can my child participate?

(a) Child Age: They are currently accepting children between 3 months and 7 years old.

(b) Required Equipment:
You’ll need a working webcam attached to your computer to participate.

(c) Link to Account Signup: If you would like to participate, create an account at the following url:

#3 What’s the cost?

It’s free to register and signup. You will not be paid for the experiment.

#4 What are the experiments?

Same difference


Age range: 11-, 12-, and 13-month olds.

What do same and different mean to infants? Do they make connections between various sorts of similarities (same color, same shape, same duration)? In this study your infant will hear a few short audio clips with repeated or differents sounds, and we’ll observe where he/she chooses to look.

Talking Faces

womans-faceAge range: 4 to 24 months.

Children use both hearing and vision to learn about and understand speech. In this study, your child will hear a woman read several nursery rhymes–but her face may or may not match the sound!

Cause and effect

Age range: 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds.

When something has several possible explanations, how do children determine what the most likely one is? We’ll read some stories to your child and ask him or her a few questions about them.

Learning from others

Age range: 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds.

How do children filter through many sources of information to learn robustly from other people? In this study two women will name familiar objects with varying accuracy. We’re interested in how your child chooses which one to trust when the same women name new objects as well.

Intuitive probability

Age range: 11-18 months.

Infants have rich expectations about how the world works. Can they estimate how probable a completely new event is? In this study your child will see some ‘lottery drawings’ of shapes, for instance a yellow ball coming out of a mostly-blue container. We’re interested in which outcomes he or she finds most surprising.

Learning new verbs

Age range: 2-year-olds (24-36 months).

In this experiment, your child will watch several clips of conversations that introduce a new verb, followed by side-by-side movies of experimenters pantomiming two different verbs. We are interested in how children use information from the conversations to figure out which action matches the new verb.

#4 When does it start?

Ongoing. Registration is available at Lookit website.