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YPIE Scientist: Emily Baafi & Mary Bediako

Updated: May 31




Research: Measuring Brainwave Activity and its Correlation to Racial Bias in Adolescents when viewing facial expressions


Mentor: Charlotte Kleiman 


Awards: Westlake/Somers Science Research Competition, 3rd Place Award - Spring 2022, Participant in WSEF 2023, Top Team Leason Ellis Team Project Award: Mr. Leason and Ms. Sauer - Spring 2024


Research Location: Yonkers NY


Abstract:


Individuals form implicit biases through unconsciously developing assumption, while explicit biases result from conscious decisions. Racial bias is a type of bias that affects people today, which refers to opinions or preconceptions that influence an individual's understanding of another racial out-group. Racial prejudices arise in areas of the brain that interfere with a person's brain wave activity. A prior study done by Dr.Izuma et al. involved individuals from two racial backgrounds. While looking at photos of a racial in-group and a racial out-group, participants were placed under an fMRI scanner to examine evidence of racial prejudice in the amygdala. In contrast, this study examined the brain wave activity of young people from two racial groups. Participants had to complete an explicit bias test while also partaking in an explicit bias test. An electroencephalography (EEG) device was then placed on their heads while they viewed images of older individuals from two ethnic backgrounds (White and Black). With the EEG on, the explicit bias test asked the participants how they perceived the images' friendliness, aggressiveness, and hostility with the 7 point likert scale. Participants' implicit biases were reflected by higher beta brainwave activity, which reflects fear and racial bias. Based on the findings, the explicit bias test scores for all four racial groups were low collectively. The explicit bias test score were also relatively low. When putting data through both a T-Test and an ANOVA results proved to statistically insignificant, disproving our hypostasis. Non-significant results may be a result of the small sample size.  These results serve as a basis for further research and may encourage others to conduct the same study with a bigger sample size





About this Scientist:


Emily Baafi is a Senior attending Yonkers High School. As a young African American the reality of racial injustice is no surprise for her. This is why she is so passionate on the issue. With her partner, Mary Bediako, Emily works on a science reading project that aims to shed light on the existence of racial bias in adolescents. She hopes not only to impact her community but the whole world.


Mary Bediako is a Senior attending Yonkers High School, intending to pursue her career in nursing. She finds interest and passion learning about social injustice and racial inequities present in society. She works with her friend Emily Baafi on an ongoing research project that sheds light on the presence of racial bias in adolescents. With these interests she hopes to inspire and make a positive impact in her community.

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