Neurocognition Science Laboratory

Neurocognition Science Laboratory

The East Carolina University College of Education Neurocognition Science Laboratory (ECU COE NCSL) is a research and service focused interdisciplinary laboratory designed to examine learning across the lifespan with the intent of translating foundational research into actionable outcomes in varied educational contexts from the classroom to the home. The NCSL is a world-class research facility designed to investigate the incredible changes in the brain and a person’s behavior as they learn.

This facility integrates multiple cutting-edge technologies—EEG, eye/head-tracking, virtual reality, and neuroimaging along with traditional educational and psychological assessments. Research using these technologies draws together a world class group of investigators within and outside of the ECU College of Education while building collaborations across the United States and the world. There is no other facility in the world that effectively integrates all of these technologies and approaches to answer questions about learning and education. The ECU NCSL truly stands at the cutting edge of research in North Carolina, the United States, and the world. The laboratory is currently partnering and collaborating with laboratories in multiple states in the United States and countries including, Canada, China, the United Kingdom, and Spain. If you are interested in learning more or collaboration with our research efforts, please contact us for a tour.

Projects include: 
  • Developing virtual reality-based functional assessment and learning environments for persons with neurological, physiological, and behavioral challenges;
  • Understanding how big data, video games, and constructed realities can improve student learning specifically in STEM and literacy;
  • Developing diagnostic, developmental, and learning tools to aid schools, parents, and clinicians in working with children with Autism and other high needs conditions;
  • Working to develop functional assessments and mitigation tools to promote cognitive activity in persons with Alzheimer’s Dementia;
  • Exploring and characterizing the affordances of educational technology (virtual reality, augmented reality, intelligent tutors) as a means to promote learning in all educational environments.

ECU Student Opportunities

The NCSL provides research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students from disciplines across ECU’s campus. Currently the lab is involved in a variety of research projects. If you are interested in these projects or in pursuing a similar project, contact lab director Dr. Rich Lamb.

Current Research Projects:

Virtual Reality in Science Education

    • Virtual Reality is being used as a pedagogical tool in an 8th grade science classroom. Students are immersed into a virtual oceanic ecosystem and their knowledge of the content and engagement is being evaluated.

Virtual Reality and Writing Skills

    • Students are given either a science textbook, emersion into a virtual oceanic ecosystem, or both, and then asked to write about what they learned. Their ability to use details and descriptive words demonstrating critical thinking is evaluated and compared across tools in an effort to address the opportunity gap.

Pre-Service Teacher Preparation Using Virtual Reality

    • Students in the teacher education program are given the opportunity to interact and observe an urban virtual classroom. Their ability to transform knowledge gained from the virtual experience to a real classroom is evaluated.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

    • Individuals diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum are being evaluated through virtual reality to understand the effects of specific social stories, and to further understand phobias these individuals have regarding school or the workplace.

Infantile Music Learning

    • Using a neuroimaging device, infants’ neurological responses to different musical stimuli are recorded. Preference and attention to certain musical pieces will be evaluated both behaviorally and neurologically. While this does not directly use a virtually reality component, the research used to understand the role of sound will assist in the development of audio components in future VR applications.

Science of Learning in Science Education

    • A combination of three physiological and neuroimaging tools are used to understand the cognitive processes during mental rotation tasks that are important in the teaching and learning of chemistry. Understanding gleaned about the processing of visual stimuli has application to development of VR applications.

Play Therapy

    • Children with reported high levels of anxiety are used as participants to understand the effects of virtual reality play therapy.

Community Opportunities

One way that community members can become involved with NCSL is through the High School Research program. This program allows high school students an opportunity to understand and conduct human research. It’s comprised of in-depth discussions of existing research and the chance for high school students to contribute their own research ideas related to topics such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, social media and gaming using an educational neuroscience framework. This opportunity will help students with applying successfully to future internships, projects and programs at prestigious colleges and universities.

Learn more about the NCSL High School Program

NCSL Faculty

Richard Lamb
East Carolina University
Leonard Annetta
East Carolina University
Denise Bressler
East Carolina University
Jessica Stone
East Carolina University
Jonah Firestone
Washington State University
Amanda Kavner
SUNY Stony Brooke