Skip to:Main Content

Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
Washington and Lee University Campus Image

Information for Labsters

Welcome to the Lab!


Important Information about the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab

1. National Institute of Health Certification

First, everyone in the lab must complete the NIH certification in ethical research principles to work with human participants. This can be done by clicking here and following the instructions. Make sure you print your certificate and give it to Beverly Bowring. This certification outlines rules for lab safety and protocols for human research. In addition, all of the research in the lab is conducted under the auspices of the Washington and Lee Institutional Review Board.

2. Safety

Although scientific research may sometimes pose risks to participant, Washington and Lee takes every precaution to ensure the safety of the participant. People will smell odors and typically have their brain activity and behavior recorded through EEG. Even though these are benign procedures, it is your responsibility to make sure participants understand what to expect and are comfortalble with all aspects of the data collection. Safety is our priority. Everything else is secondary.

3. Confidentiality

The participants in our studies are often required to provide personal information in order to assure their safety. ALL of this information is confidential and may not leave the lab under any circumstance. Some of these conditions include: recent head injuries, alcohol consumption, medications and other personal conditions. Students may not discuss such problems outside the lab.

Labsters also must be aware that some studies are funded by sources that wish to remain anonymous until the work is patented. If one of these studies are being conducted, respect the source's wish and do not disclose any information about the study.

4. Expectations about Projects

Labsters work on a variety of projects and under different amounts of course credits. Dr. Lorig's expectations are quite simple: Everyone is expected to work (collect data, analyze data, clean, etc.) on at least one project. Everyone is also expected to attend "Brown Bag Lunches" and "Coffee Fridays" and make at least one presentation. If you are taking one credit - that's the limit of Dr. Lorig's expectations about your involvement. People taking two credits are also expected to write a methods and results section concerning the project they are working on. People taking three credits are expected to write full APA style papers on their projects. All papers are due the last day of classes.

5. Behavior in and out of the lab.

When in the lab, you are expected to behave in a professional manner. That means being on time for appointments, knowing what you are doing and being pleasant and reassuring for subjects. Outside the lab, the same thing holds. You are acting as a representative of Washington and Lee whether you are presenting a poster at a meeting or going to medical school interviews. As a representative of this school and this lab, the things you do reflect on the university. Make sure that reflection is flattering. An unflattering reflection means that the people behind you may not get to go to graduate or medical school at the place where you embarrassed yourself.

6. More Important Information

For all types of research we utilize:


Our lab runs on MATLAB. Just about every analysis that we do involves this programming language. Analysis of eye movements, EEG, ERPs, brain microstates, and fMRI (SPM5) all use MATLAB. You need to know how to use it. Here are a couple of tutorials that will get you started: Michigan and USNA. The MATLAB website also offers great insight into the program.


We use SPSS and Cleave for doing the statistical analysis of the data after it's been reduced with the software above. You've used SPSS before but a reminder is never a bad thing to have around. With thanks to the folks down at Furman.

Experiment Control.

All of our physiological data collection is coupled to the tasks the subject are doing. To make this work, two computers are used. One, the controller, runs the experiment and collects some behavioral data. It also sends signals to the computer collecting the physiological data so that the record can be "marked" as to what the subject was doing or experiencing. We use MATLAB to write programs that do experimental control.

For EEG and ERP Research


We use a MATLAB toolbox (EEGLAB) from Arnaud Delorme and Scott Makeig, at Scripps for analyzing our EEG and ERP data. It is unbelievably good. Here is their tutorial.

Collecting EEG data.

We use a Biosemi Active Two system with 96 channels to collect brain electrical activity. This is a brief description of procedures to collect these data in our lab.

For fMRI Research


This is a MATLAB tool box for the analysis of fMRI data. They have an excellent set of resources at UCLA. This toolbox on on the MATLAB path of the Macintosh in the lab.