Infant and Child Development Studies

Binaural Hearing and Speech Lab


Recruiting typically developing children 7-12 years of age who meet the following criteria: Native English speakers, normal hearing, no history of recurring ear infections, and pressure equalization (PE) tubes. To find out more visit the website: or contact Shelly Godar, MA, CCC-A at 608.262.7483 or

PI: Ruth Litovsky, PhD
Keywords: Infant & Child Development, Speech and Language Development

Child Development Research


We are looking for families with children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years to participate in studies about how infants and children learn language and come to understand the social world. We would love to have your help in this process, and it is a great opportunity to learn more about how your child thinks and learns!

Study participation involves a one-time visit to the Infant Learning Lab or the Social Kids Lab at the Waisman Center with your child. A visit takes approximately 30 minutes, and a study itself takes between 5 and 15 minutes. You will be with your child for the entire session.

Infants who participate will sit on your lab during the study, and will listen to sounds and view images on a computer monitor. Older children will view images on a computer or in a book, and be asked simple questions.

Sessions can be scheduled at your convenience, and evening and weekend appointments are available. Families will receive a thank you gift for participating, and we provide free parking and free childcare for siblings.

If you are interested in learning more about our research and possibly participating, please fill out this simple online form and we'll be in touch soon!

Additionally, please feel free to share this invitation with anyone you know who may be interested! This research has been approved by the University of Wisconsin IRB and is part of the research program of the Waisman Center under the direction of Dr. Jenny Saffran and Dr. Kristin Shutts.

Thank you, The Social Kids Lab Team (608-263-5853) The Infant Learning Lab Team (608-263-5876)

PIs: Jenny Saffran, PhD, Kristin Shutts, PhD
Keywords: Infant & Child Development

Child Emotion Lab Studies


Research projects in the Child Emotion Lab are focused on children's emotional development and the relationship between early life experiences and children's mental health. We are particularly interested in understanding two related aspects of emotional development:

  • What are the mechanisms of normal emotional development? To what extent are emotions shaped by nature and nurture? Does it make sense to try to separate biology and experience?
  • How are emotions related to the development of mental health problems? Might the development of emotional processes help explain the link between early life experiences and later development of psychological difficulties such as anxiety and depression?

We invite families with children ages 9-17 to participate in our studies.
Please contact us at 608.890.2525 or for more information

PI: Seth Pollak, PhD
Keywords: Infant and Child Development 

Fraction Understanding in 2nd & 5th Graders


The Educational Neuroscience Lab and Mathematics Education Learning & Development Lab are working with the Waisman Center to investigate the development of fraction knowledge in children. Knowledge of fractions and mathematical competence are important determinants of life chances in modern society. Despite the importance of fraction knowledge, children and adults often encounter considerable difficulties understanding fractions. We are currently recruiting typically developing 2nd and 5th graders enrolled in Madison area public schools to participate in our longitudinal study. 

Participation will involve completing 2-4 sessions with us per year for four years. Sessions will include computer games about math, standardized assessments, surveys, and brain imaging. To qualify for the brain imaging portion, participants must pass the fMRI screening. Participants may not participate in the brain imaging portion of the study if they have any metal in their body or experience claustrophobia.

For every behavioral session completed, participants will receive $10.
For every brain imaging session completed, participants will receive $50.
Children under the age of 12 will also receive a toy after each session.

For more information, please call 608-263-4011, email, or visit

PI: Edward Hubbard, PhD & Percival Matthews, PhD
Keywords: Brain Imaging, Infant & Child Development, Education

Infant Learning Lab


There are several projects examining the learning processes underlie that acquisition of words, one's native language, and music. Infants ages 6 to 30 months are needed.

PI: Jenny Saffran, PhD
Keywords: Infant and Child Development, Speech and Language Development

Social Kids Lab


We study how children navigate the social world. Several ongoing studies address the development of social categories and preferences. We currently have studies for infants, preschoolers, and school-aged children. For more information, call 608.263.5853, email us at or visit

PI: Kristin Shutts, PhD
Keywords: Infant and Child Development

Social and Behavioral Development Lab


The Social and Behavioral Development Lab is currently seeking families to participate in our study who have children with or without behavior and/or attention problems who:

  • Are entering or have just completed kindergarten
  • Are fluent in English
  • Live with at least one biological parent
  • Have not been previously diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or intellectual disability

What does participation involve?

Eligible families will visit our lab at the Waisman Center at UW-Madison to engage in the following activities:


  • Clinical interview about your child’s behavior and emotional functioning
  • Questionnaires and ratings scales about your child’s behavior at home and at school


  • IQ and cognitive tests
  • Interactive activities on the computer

Parent and Child:

  • Videotaped parent-child play activity
  • Saliva samples for DNA analysis

What are the benefits?

You will receive:

  • No direct benefits (i.e., we provide no clinical diagnosis or treatment)
  • A written summary of your child's cognitive and behavioral functioning
  • $40 for your full participation
  • Your child will get a toy prize!

If you are interested in learning more about our research or have any other questions, please email us at or call us at 608-263-5854.

PI: James Li, PhD
Keywords:  Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Infant and Child Development

Speech Development Study


Our current research study examines speech characteristics in young children. We are recruiting typically developing children between the ages of 2 ½ and 7 years to participate.

The information we gather from your child will be used to determine how intelligible the speech of typically developing children is at different ages.  We will use recordings of your child’s speech to help establish expectations for typical speech development.  This information will be compared to the same data obtained from a group of children with cerebral palsy, to help us understand the differences in speech characteristics between the two groups.

If you decide to have your child participate in this research he or she will be evaluated at the Waisman Center in a special sound room. Your child’s participation will last between 30 and 60 minutes and will be 1 session. During the session, your child will participate in several play-based activities designed to elicit speech. Your child will receive a small toy of his or her choice for participating and you will be paid $10.  In addition, you will complete a few short questionnaires about your child’s behavior and development.

For questions or additional information, please call (608) 262-2967 or email us at

To enroll your child in this study, go to:

PI: Katherine Hustad, PhD
Keywords: Speech and Language Development, Infant and Child Development 

Speech and Sound Reflection Study


The Vocal Tract Development Laboratory at the Waisman Center, directed by Dr. Houri K. Vorperian, is currently recruiting individuals of all ages to participate in a speech and sound reflection study. The lab is interested in characterizing the development of the mouth and throat structures in typically developing individuals and individuals with Down syndrome. The purpose of the lab's research is to understand how changes in the anatomy of the mouth and throat affect the production of speech sounds.

This current study includes a hearing screening and having your voice recorded while repeating sounds, words, and sentences. Eligible participants may also be asked to breathe into a tube. The tube makes clicking noises to measure the inside of the mouth and throat. Participants with recent head or neck imaging (CT or MRI scans) are highly desired, but those without imaging may still
participate. Compensation is provided for participation. Study duration is 30-60 minutes.

You can view this study's consent form as well as an informational flyer here:

Please contact the Vocal Tract Lab at 608.263.5610 or email if you have any questions or would like to schedule a visit.

PI: Houri K. Vorperian, PhD
Keywords: Down Syndrome, Infant and Child Development

Wisconsin Twin Project


Headed by Professor Hill Goldsmith, the Wisconsin Twin Project (WTP) is a panel of all twins born in Wisconsin after 1989. Goals of this study include understanding behavioral adaptation and challenges, such as coping and fearfulness. How does the pattern of similarities and differences between twins change over time. Other themes include sensory experiences, relationships, and general social-emotional development through late adolescence and early adulthood.

Contact us toll free at 866.230.2560 or e-mail,

PI: Hill Goldsmith, PhD
Keywords: Infant and Child Development, Twins