Laboratory for Psychological Research

The Laboratory for Psychological Research was established in 2014. The aim of the Research Laboratory is to provide research opportunities for the Institute's members as well as its students, through its own and international research projects. At present, it incorporates two active laboratories equipped with the highest quality instruments. The Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory has high resolution EEG equipment, a sleep-laboratory, an eye-tracking device, stereo- and psychophysical workstations; it conducts research on the developmental mechanisms of the human cortex, perceptual and motor development and learning, developmental disorders, learning difficulties, and on the relationship between sleeping and learning. The Psychological Observation Laboratory has an observation room equipped with a detective mirror, sound- and image recording device, as well as a multimedia processor, thus it allows us to observe parent-infant interaction, and enables socio psychological, legal and clinical psychology observations. At the moment the laboratory explores childhood- adolescent- and adult attachment, its normative and other specific clinical disorders. The Research Laboratory also incorporates the Applied Social Psychology Research Laboratory where individual and organizational background factors of the effective organizational emotional regulations are explored.

Currently Supported Research

Sculpting the teenage brain: Adolescence as a critical period in brain development

  • PI: Dr. Prof Ilona Kovács
  • Grant No: OTKA NK 104481
  • Support amount: EUR 209K
  • Support period: 2013-2016

Summary and Aims :

Fascinating “nonlinear” transformations in the cognitive and emotional domains take place at the brink of adulthood. This is the age when identity-forming life-events occur, and, at the same time, the prevalence rates of drug abuse, early pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, car accidents are on the rise. Beyond the predisposition towards risk-taking behavior, the adaptive nature of increased malleability in the adolescent brain has also been emphasized. This enhanced plasticity makes the teen years a time of great possibilities: in some sense, a “critical window” of brain maturation.

During this critical period, the cortical networks are going through a transitional destabilization and reorganization phase, just preceding the emergence of established adult cortical networks. We assume that the destabilization phase is necessary to cope with the double constraints of strengthening useful connections while eliminating flawed ones even within the primary sensory and motor cortices. We aim to capture this transitional phase in non-monotonic behavioral developmental curves of perceptual and motor skill learning, and associated correlates of sleep EEG.

In addition to understanding this important phase of human development better, and providing useful information for educators and parents of typically developing teenagers, we believe that our work will also have clinical and therapeutic relevance. A number of neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, emerge during this period, indicating that errors in brain reorganization during puberty might have life-long effects. Our research may potentially reveal early and very specific signs of such disturbances.

Developmental and clinical aspects of the dynamic balance of visual perception

  • PI: Dr. Prof Ilona Kovács
  • Grant No: OTKA NN 110466
  • Support amount: EUR 155K
  • Support period: 2014-2017

Summary and Aims

An 80-year-old grandmother and her 10-month-old grandson will react very differently to the same stimulus, e.g., a noisy car approaching. The child will be engaged by the sound, will turn his body in the direction of the sound-source, and drop all the toys he was playing with. On the other hand, grandma has heard this sound so many times; she does not even lift her eyes from the page she was reading. While the child cannot help being over-sensitive to novel stimuli even if he was busy with doing something else, grandmother – relying only on her extensive knowledge about the world – is a bit indifferent. Perhaps, the baby’s mother would just take a quick look to see if there is anything interesting, and continue her ongoing activity…

This scenario illustrates the main hypothesis of the proposal: optimal human functioning is supported by a finely tuned balance between perceptual stability (based on prior knowledge) and sensitivity to input details. We apply an experimental paradigm that helps us to estimate the actual balance between stability and sensitivity, and a computational model that provides us with precise theoretical predictions with respect to healthy adult, pre-adolescent, adolescent subjects, and psychiatric patients. We predict an optimal balance between stability and sensitivity in healthy adults; a shift towards increased sensitivity in adolescents; and a shift towards increased stability (rigidity) in psychiatric patients. The relevance of the project is both theoretical – in establishing a novel approach to perception; and practical – in providing a potentially new tool to understand sub-optimal human functioning in different psychiatric disorders.

Other research projects
Early Development and Attachment Research Laboratory

Head of research: Eszter Hámori, Developmental and Clinical Child Psychology Department

Research subject:

  • Complex examination of infants born with developmental risks (sponsored by OTKA no. F 68347 fund between 2007-11, head of research: Eszter Hámori): this program is focusing on the cognitive and social development of the prematurely born, Down-syndrome and typically developing children at their early infantile age with the involvement of their parents. Many of our processes that are developed here for individual, early diagnosis and the research of attachment are being adapted in clinical practice throughout this project at the moment (CIV test, play-interaction analysis, baby video approach). Partner institutes are Down Foundation - Early Development Centre, BHRG Foundation with the leadership of Dr Katalin Lakatos, Semmelweis University I. Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Perinatology Centre with the leadership of Dr Anna Beke.
  • The Center of Attachment Research (lead by Eszter Hámori and Krisztina Csabai) focuses on adolescent and adult attachment’s normative factors and those that characterise clinical deviations, and the further development of procedures used for assessing attachment (e.g. Bird’s Nest drawing). Partner institutes are Semmelweis University I Pediatric Clinic,  SE Psychiatry and Psychotherapy Clinic, Budapest St John Hospital Psychiatry Department, University of Pécs - Personality and Clinical Psychology Department)


Publications in 2014

Bódizs R , Gombos F , Szőcs K , Réthelyi JM , Gerván P , Kovács I
Sleep-EEG in dizygotic twins discordant for Williams syndrome

Bódizs R , Gombos F , Gerván P , Szőcs K , Réthelyi JM , Kovács I
Aging and Sleep in Williams Syndrome: Accelerated Sleep Deterioration and Decelerated Slow Wave Sleep Decrement

Bódizs R , Gombos F , Ujma PP , Kovács I
Sleep spindling and fluid intelligence across adolescent development: sex matters.

Eszter Mikó-Baráth , Katalin Markó, Anna Budai , Béla Török , Ilona Kovacs , Gábor Jandó
Maturation of cyclopean visual evoked potential phase in preterm and full-term infants

Kis Anna, Szakadát Sára, Simor Péter, Gombos Ferenc, Horváth Klára, Bódizs Róbert
Objective and Subjective Components of the First-Night Effect in Young Nightmare Sufferers and Healthy Participants
BEHAVIORAL SLEEP MEDICINE 12:(6) pp. 469-480. (2014)

Kis Anna, Szakadát Sára, Kovács Enikő, Gácsi Márta, Simor Péter, Gombos Ferenc, Topál József, Miklósi Ádám, Bódizs Róbert
Development of a non-invasive polysomnography technique for dogs (Canis familiaris)
PHYSIOLOGY AND BEHAVIOR 130: pp. 149-156. (2014)

Simor P, Körmendi J, Horváth K, Gombos F, Ujma PP, Bódizs R
Electroencephalographic and autonomic alterations in subjects with frequent nightmares during pre-and post-REM periods
BRAIN AND COGNITION 91C: pp. 62-70. (2014)

Simor P, Körmendi J, Horváth K, Gombos F, Ujma PP, Bódizs R
Electroencephalographic and autonomic alterations in subjects with frequent nightmares during pre-and post-REM periods
BRAIN AND COGNITION 91C: pp. 62-70. (2014)

Halász Péter, Bódizs Róbert, Parrino Liborio, Terzano Mario
Two features of sleep slow waves: homeostatic and reactive aspects - from long term to instant sleep homeostasis
SLEEP MEDICINE 15:(10) pp. 1184-1195. (2014)

Sándor Piroska, Szakadát SáraBódizs Róbert
Ontogeny of dreaming: a review of empirical studies
SLEEP MEDICINE REVIEWS 18:(5) pp. 435-449. (2014)

Simor P, Horváth K, Körmendi J, Ujma P, Bódizs R
Electroencephalographic and autonomic alterations in nightmare disorder during pre-and post-REM periods
JOURNAL OF SLEEP RESEARCH 23:(Suppl 1) p. 70. (2014)

Csabai, K, Szabó, P., Hámori, E.
Relationship between mother's perceptions formed about infants, attachment style, and early feeding habits.

Hámori E, Csabai K, Unoka Zs, Nagy L, Turcsán F
Patterns of attachment in clinical disorders of adolescence and adulthood.

Horváth J, Hámori E, Csabai K
Methodological challenges in measuring attachment: Laymen's interpretations of attachment.