Research Techniques

Learn More About Our Research Techniques!

We are a very interdisciplinary team in the BABLab. As such, we use a range of different research techniques to answer our questions. The study you are enrolled in may use one, or a few of these techniques. Remember, you do not have to do anything you do not want to do. But you can get more information about all of the techniques below.


The best source of information is you! In all of our studies we will ask you a range of different questions. These questions might touch on your thoughts and feelings about different topics, your early experiences, your physical health and exercise, and your diet.


Heart Rate

We will stick stickers on your chest, which will be hooked up to a computer. This will measure your heart rate.

Skin Conductance Response

We will stick stickers either on your non-dominant hand or on your foot, which will be hooked up to a computer. This will measure very small changes in sweating.

Gastric Activity

We will stick stickers to your stomach, which will be hooked up to a computer. This will measure gastric activity (movements in the gut muscles).

Biological samples


We can measure lots of things in saliva – hormones, genes, bacteria – you name it! If you donate a saliva sample, your researcher will tell you what we are measuring in your sample. Collecting saliva is easy, you just suck on a cotton swab or spit in a tube.


Because we are interested in the bacteria and other microorganisms (the microbiome), we often collect stool (poop) samples. Collecting stool might sound a little strange (or yuk!) but it is actually very easy to do. We give you a collection kit which you take home, and then you collect only a pea sized amount of poop and put it in the tube. You can send it back to us through the regular post.

Blood Spot

The best way to look at the immune system and some hormones is though your blood. Collecting blood is easy, and because we only collect a little, it doesn’t hurt much. We will give you a small prick on your finger (like you might get at the doctor) and you will put some drops of your blood on paper. To keep your mind on other things, we will give you some Virtual Reality (VR) goggles. Some people don’t even notice the finger prick when they are wearing the goggles.


Did you know that hormones are stored in your hair? By cutting just a few strands of hair from the back of your head, we can measure hormones like cortisol that have been stored there for a long time – cortisol is part of your stress system. This won’t hurt at all and we only need to cut a few strands.


MRI is a very safe technology that uses magnets to take pictures of the inside of our bodies. You will be awake in the scanner – there is no sedation or drugs. You will watch movies and play games. We will make sure that you are safe to go in the scanner by checking that you do not have any mental inside you or on you. After you are finished, we will give you some pictures of your brain to take home! Even newborn babies can do research studies in the scanner, and children often report having a good time inside – like being in a spaceship.