OUR Featured Researcher: Charlotte Babarinsa '20
Charlotte (she/her) is an Oberlin College Research Fellow (OCRF) majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience. She conducts research in Professor Leslie Kwakye's lab. Her research is titled "An Electroencephalography Investigation of the Effects of Attention on Crossmodal Temporal Acuity".
Please describe your research project:
The ability to accurately integrate sensory information from our environment, a concept known as multisensory integration, is an integral mechanism in information processing that allows us to create a coherent perception of the world around us. The closer together two stimuli from different senses are in time, the more likely the stimuli will be integrated. The accuracy of this integration is heavily reliant on our ability to precisely distinguish small timing differences between unisensory stimuli (crossmodal temporal acuity). Attention is a process that allows us to organize the abundance of information we take in through our senses. Our research aims to investigate the neural mechanisms in the brain that underlie the interaction between attention and crossmodal temporal acuity.
Why is your research important?
Both attention and multisensory integration have been shown to be affected in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders (including autism and schizophrenia). Knowing more about how multisensory integration and attention interact increases our understanding of perception in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, which could potentially influence diagnostice practices or interventions.
What research methods do you use?
Our lab uses a method called EEG which involves recording changes in
voltage across the scalp. We are able to analyze the data from EEG recordings to infer brain activity in relation to how attention modulates multisensory tasks.
In what ways have you showcased your research?
I have showcased my research in multiple ways including presentations at Oberlin College's Summer symposium and poster presentations for President Ambar's Inaugaration. I even recently was able to travel to Chicago and California to present my research poster to others in my field!
What is your favorite aspect of the research process?
My favorite part of the the research process is analysing the data, as you finally start to see if your hypotheses are correct. Analysis of the data also allows us to reach conclusions, which can inspire the next research question that we want to pursue!
What advice would you give to a younger student wanting to get involved in research in
Research professors on campus and the research that they have been conducting - this allows you to find a research project that aligns with your interests. Email the professors and meet with them to speak about their research - professors are passionate about their research and love to talk about it!