The University of Texas at Tyler recently opened a new Media and Communication Research Laboratory (MCRL) within the College of Arts and Sciences. The laboratory officially opened earlier this year, has space to conduct different types of media and communication research studies, and includes equipment for studies in media psychophysiology and neuroscience.
Terry Britt, PhD is an assistant professor of communication who serves as the lab's coordinator.
“It’s a relatively young field of research for media and mass communication but offers so much potential in exploring how our minds and bodies react to and process the media content we consume every day, from news to music to movies and television programming,” Britt says.
The lab equipment was recently purchased from BIOPAC Systems, Inc., a California based company that makes high-quality equipment for capturing and interpreting physiological signals.
Additionally, the lab currently includes modules for measuring several physiological signals, including heart rate (ECG/EKG), facial myography (fEMG), dermal response (EDA), pulse, respiration as well as limited-capacity electroencephalography (EEG). Britt hopes funding can be acquired soon to equip the lab for full-capacity EEG, conscious states measurement and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) of neural activity in the brain.
The lab also features a control room for researchers, a participant room that can be set up for everything from computer-based experiments to small focus group studies to virtual reality studies and a small private office ideal for consultation with participants or interview-based studies.
“It’s an excellent space for all types of communication research studies,” Britt said. “I’m looking forward to my department colleagues being able to use it for research studies, and I am also excited for the prospects for interdisciplinary research studies utilizing the lab and equipment there.”
Britt researches human memory content and recall connected to episodic memories of news events and various forms of entertainment media. He began training and research in media psychophysiology and media content relationships to human psychology while in the doctoral program at the University of Missouri School of Journalism from 2015-2018.