Aalto Behavioral Laboratory – behavioural research for everyone
Aalto Behavioral Laboratory opened in Otaniemi last autumn and has since then provided versatile services to researchers.
Aalto Behavioral Laboratory (ABL) offers measurement facilities and devices for behavioural studies. For this purpose, the laboratory has two measurement rooms and different stimulus and monitoring systems. ABL is located in the Magnet House (Otakaari 5) – in the same building as the AMI centre and the Aalto TMS laboratory, which are part of the Aalto NeuroImaging research infrastructure.
The laboratory has facilities and equipment for carrying out measurements with a thermal camera, eye trackers and accelerometerand for performing electroencephalogram (EEG), electromyogram (EMG), electrocardiogram (ECG) and galvanic skin response (GSR) measurements. ABL is maintained by Aalto NeuroImaging (ANI) staff and administrated by the Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering.
- ABL provides good facilities for different researchers and offers comprehensive familiarisation to people who use of the equipment. Our aim is to make ABL a place that is easy to come to, says Veli-Matti Saarinen, Research Engineer at ABL.
Saarinen graduated with a Master of Science degree in Technology from Helsinki University of Technology and had already worked with eye trackers in the Brain Research Unit (BRU) of the Low Temperature Laboratory for about ten years before ABL. Saarinen’s work includes, for example, the maintenance of the laboratory as well as technical assistance.
Anyone is welcome to conduct measurements at ABL’s facilities once their study has received a supporting statement from the appropriate ethics committee.
- The level of technical expertise of the people conducting the measurements is not critical as we will also provide assistance for using the equipment, says Saarinen.
In addition to both the facilities and equipment, the measurement time also includes support from the staff. Additionally, it is possible to get help for planning the tests and building the test system, and the staff is also happy to receive special requests. Starting from next autumn, the laboratory will also organise training for using the different equipment.
The laboratory can be used completely free of charge this year; after the turn of the year this will be assessed again.
A thermal camera shows the amount of infrared radiation emitted by the targets. An infrared camera can be used to measure the variation in infrared radiation emitted by the skin, for example, on a subject’s face.
ABL will have open doors during the Aalto Festival. During the open doors, visitors can familiarise themselves with the facilities, equipment and staff.
- During the festival, we will have for example the eye trackers on show. They measure the direction of the gaze and can be used to examine for instance what the person has been looking at and for how long. The thermal camera demonstration will show how different things and people emit infrared radiation and how accurately the thermal camera can detect for example the heat left on a surface by someone’s hand.
Saarinen hopes that the open doors event will make people even more interested in the laboratory and will encourage them to use its services actively in their research.
There are two types of eye trackers in the laboratory: head-mounted mobile glasses and remote devices that are installed on the table. A mobile device can also be used outside the laboratory, and the real-time video and online data cursor can be monitored remotely. Both device types have an eye tracker for calculating the direction of the gaze. By combining the video recording of the scene camera view and the data on the position of the eyes at any given time, it is possible to obtain information about where the person directs his or her gaze and how the eyes move.
The laboratory has two rooms, one of which is an electrically shielded room. The shielded room serves as a Faraday cage, reducing external electric and radio frequency interference in EEG measurements.
Below, you can watch a video introduction to ABL and an example of how a head-mounted eye tracker works.
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