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What is an EEG?
An Electroencephalogram (abbreviated 'EEG') is a noninvasive technology that measures the spontaneous electrical activity of the brain. EEG has high
temporal resolution (meaning it can produce highly time-accurate data)
as an individual performs a cognitive task. This allows us to determine very accurately when cognitive processes occur in the brain.

Man placing EEG net on another person's head.
Photo by Janne Moren

Along with research into brain function and cognition (which is the emphasis of our lab), EEG is often used in sleep studies, assessment of neuropsychiatric disorders and brain injuries, epilepsy diagnosis and management, brain-computer interfaces, and anesthesia monitoring.

How does an EEG cap work?
Our EEG nets are each a network of 127 electrodes that are attached in a network to create a flexible cap. The cap is soaked in a solution of KCl and gentle soap to increase electrical conductivity. The cap is positioned on the scalp to ensure the electrodes make good contact with the skin. This net is connected to a computer or other recording device which collects a recording of the EEG data (usually as a person completes a cognitive task).

The functionality of the EEG technology depends crucially on the electrical nature of the brain. The brain contains billions of cells called neurons that communicate with each other via electrical impulses. When many neurons fire together they create an electrical signal that can be detected on the scalp. The electrodes in the EEG net are sensitive to these small voltage changes caused by neuronal activity. The electrodes connect to an amplifier, which strengthens the weak electrical signals to make them easier to measure and record.

Once data has been collected, the electrical signals are processed and analyzed by computer software to differentiate EEG waveforms ("brainwave patterns") which reflect the amplitude (strength) and frequency (speed) of the neural response.

How does an EEG cap feel?
You should feel little to no discomfort with an EEG cap on. It will leave small circle impressions on your face for roughly an hour after participation in the study, however, the EEG net is not painful and noninvasive. As mentioned above, the net is soaked in a solution of potassium chloride and baby shampoo, so it is wet upon application and your hair and face will get slightly wet. We provide towels to prevent excess solution from making your clothes wet.

What kind of research do you do in the CCNN Lab at BYU?
Visit our Current Research Studies page to check out what we are currently working on.

What are the benefits of participating in research?
You get to help us further research in the areas of cognitive control, error awareness, and brain injury! Depending on the study, you could be compensated monetarily or awarded credit for a class. This varies from study to study, so please view the current research studies and check out the studies available on SONA for more details.

How do I get course credit for participating?
Let the research assistants who are conducting the study know that you are participating for credit. They will grant your credit soon after your participation is complete. Course credit will be granted to you through the SONA systems website​. Every ten minutes of participation is equivalent to one sona credit (e.g., if you participate for one hour you will receive six credits). Your instructor will be able to view the credits you have earned through their own instructor SONA account. Instructors may have different requirements for receiving credit so make sure to check your class syllabus before participating to ensure the studies you sign up for fit the criteria from your class.

How do I know if I qualify for a study?
Each study has its own eligibility criteria. Please see our current research studies page for a list of current studies. If you have questions that are not answered in the general info, please contact the person in charge of the study (most likely Dr. Larson) for more information.

Some common factors that may disqualify participants for certain studies include: color blindness, metal plates in your skull, etc.

How do I sign up?
You can browse many other different studies from other labs at BYU by signing into SONA. A list of our current studies is found on our current studies page.

If you are not participating via SONA, please contact us at 801-422-6035 to specify which study you are interested in participating in, and leave your name, phone number, and email address.

What is SONA?
SONA is a website where individuals can sign up to be research participants in different BYU psychological studies. You do not have to be a BYU student to participate. However if you are a student many professors will offer course credit for your participation. Check out our SONA page for more information.

Where will the research be conducted?
We conduct research at the University Parkway Center, or UPC, in Suite 136 on BYU campus (35 E University Parkway, Provo). This is the same building as the BYU English Language Center (ELC). We are located on the basement floor. We also conduct studies in room 221 of the Richards Building (this is the FHSS research suite).

I signed up for a study and I need to reschedule/cancel. What do I do?
There are several options for canceling or rescheduling depending on the study and how you have been contacted and/or how you signed up to participate. If you signed up through SONA and it is more than 24 hours prior to your appointment you can cancel your appointment by logging onto SONA. However, if your appointment is in less than 24 hours, you won't be able to cancel your timeslot on SONA. If your appointment was scheduled by a study leader you will need to email or call that study leader directly. Contact info for each study leader can be found here. If you are unable to reach the study leader, you can call 801-422-6035 and leave a message.

I’m interested in becoming a research assistant. How can I sign up?
Under the tab “Join Us” there is an application form for those interested in joining the lab. In general, volunteering in the lab is competitive and we typically have a waiting list of applicants. There is also the general Neuroscience website with more information if you would like to explore opportunities in other labs.

How can I make my application as a research assistant competitive?
High GPA, reliability, and longevity (committing to a year or more) are all characteristics we are looking for. An interest and/or experience in research (e.g. data entry and analysis, literature reviews, and an interest in neuroscience/neuropsychology etc.) is especially important.

What would be expected of me as a research assistant?
As a research assistant, you will be expected to set aside a few hours (around 4-8) per week to do laboratory work. In general, you are expected to be self-motivated, conscientious, and reliable. You will also be working in a team setting and should demonstrate good interpersonal skills. You will learn to administer neuropsychological tests, run EEG studies, recruit participants and enter data. You will also be expected to attend a one-hour lab meeting every other week. For each meeting, there is a short reading on the principles of EEG/ERP techniques or on other academic topics. Research assistants are expected to study this reading and come prepared to discuss it.

What benefits are there of working in the lab?
Volunteering is indispensable for students hoping to pursue graduate training in psychology and many other related fields. Sustained, productive research experience is one of the most important factors considered by admissions committees at most psychology Ph.D. programs. Depending on your contribution and motivation you can earn strong letters of recommendation for graduate school, internships, or employment. Opportunities will also be available for you to help submit research for presentation at psychology conferences and, if warranted by your contributions, to participate as a co-author on manuscripts submitted for publication in scholarly journals.

The potential benefits of your participation also include increased preparation for research requirements in graduate school, networking opportunities with students and faculty with similar professional interests, the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge and expertise in selected areas of research, and the development of relationships with students and faculty who care about your progress.

How do I apply as a graduate student?
Graduate students who participate in the CCNN lab are members of the BYU Clinical Psychology Program. For information about how to apply to the BYU clinical psychology program, please review the information provided by the Psychology department on their website.

If you are applying to the clinical psychology program and wish to work with Dr. Larson, please review the site and become familiar with the current research studies and identify areas of interest where you feel you can make a good contribution. Please contact Dr. Larson directly.

I want to be a graduate student in the Clinical Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology lab. What qualifications do I need to have?
Our lab focuses on neurophysiological and neuropsychological measures related to error processing, emotion, attention, traumatic brain injury, cognitive functioning, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other psychopathology. We use multiple forms of measurement including ERPs, neuropsychological tests, and physiological indices in our studies. Please review our publications to see a representative sample of our recent work.

When looking for qualified graduate students we look for people who have experience in psychophysiology, neuroscience, neuropsychology, or other related experience. Experience working with ERPs is also highly beneficial, although not necessary. We appreciate those that have computer programming and psychological test administration experience. We use software such as E-prime, MATLAB, and various statistical packages.

Where do students in the Clinical Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology lab go after they finish their studies at BYU?
Students who have worked with Dr. Larson have attended many top programs. Undergraduate students have moved on to graduate positions in clinical psychology, medicine, neuropsychology, pharmacology, and dental school. One student was offered a job at a well-known survey company (Qualtrics).