A large part of my time at NSI/Children’s thus far has involved creating the 30-minute stimuli material. Basically, I’ve listened to a lot of lullabies, chosen the ones that match qualifications set by prior research, performed some sound editing to equalize any abrupt volume changes (which are jarring for anyone, but especially babies), and sound tested them to ensure appropriate volume level.
Above is the brilliant Donald Hutson. He works on creating Brain-Based Devices for the Neurosciences Institute, but on the side, he is a master destroyer at BattleBots. Check his website here. He has a bot called Diesector – eek. On a lighter note, Donald engineered the lovely speaker system we are using to play music for the babies. The black thing coming out of the back of the speaker is actually a camera stand. A wire runs directly from the speaker to the iPod, so it doesn’t need any outside power. As long as the iPod is charged, the babies’ll hear music. This picture shows the iPod securely connected to the pole, but it took some finagling and brainstorming to get it to that point.
Donald attached one of those plastic snap-clasps (I just made up that name) to the iPod with adhesive foam tape. He then secured it with a zip tie, and we put it on the pole. It was a little loose, and I wanted to make sure that I would be able to see the screen at all times, so he added one thin layer of black duct tape. This added the perfect amount of traction and extra circumference for a snug fit around the pole.
The process of sound testing involved latching the speaker onto a chair in the conference room at NSI so the sound would project about one foot from the end of the sound level meter. This emulated the conditions of the speaker over a baby’s head. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the appropriate maximum sound level for prolonged exposure for an infant is 70-75 dB, so I had to first test each song for its existing dB level and then adjust accordingly.
This entire process is done, with the finalized lullaby playlist on both iPods we have designated for the study. This week at the hospital, the nurses are getting officially informed about the study and hopefully early next week, I will finally start the music administration we’ve all been waiting for!
I’ll leave you all with just a few robot-themed songs I enjoy.
Remnants of my however-modest presence in the NJSKA scene:
I wish I could find the Japanese version on YouTube but I failed:
I’ve told the world this approx. a billion times, but I’m seeing Robyn on the 22nd:
Fave remix (of this song) of the week. I feel like everyone tries to rmx this, and luckily most of them do a great job with it: