Classical eyeblink conditioning (EBC) refers to the learned association between a conditioned stimulus (an auditory tone) and an unconditioned stimulus (a puff of air to the cornea). Eyeblink conditioning is often used experimentally to detect abnormalities in cerebellar-dependent learning and memory that underlies this type of associative learning. While experiments in adults and older children are relatively simple to administer using commercial equipment, eyeblink conditioning in infants is more challenging due to their poor compliance, which makes correct positioning of the equipment difficult. To achieve conditioning in one-year-old infants, a custom-made or an adapted commercial system can be used to deliver the air puff to the infant's cornea. The main challenge lies in successfully detecting and classifying the behavioral responses. We report that automated blink detection methods are unreliable in this population, and that conditioning experiments should be analyzed using frame-by-frame analysis of supplementary video camera recordings. This method can be applied to study developmental changes in eyeblink conditioning and to examine whether this paradigm can detect children with neurological disorders.
Goodman, L. K., Anstice, N. S., Stevens, S., Thompson, B., & Wouldes, T. A. (2018). Classical short-delay eyeblink conditioning in one-year-old children. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 2018(139). https://doi.org/10.3791/58037