Online Motor Imagery Task

RESEARCH STUDY

We are looking for volunteers aged 5-18 years to participate in an online experiment to help us study how children learn to distinguish the left side of their body from the right.

It might seem trivial, but it’s an important question – being able to quickly identify parts of your body helps us to function normally in the world.

We can test this ability by showing people photographs of a hand and getting them to press a button if they think it is a left hand and a different button if they think it is a right hand. We call the test a ‘left/right judgment task’.

Knowing how long this takes on average, and therefore what is ‘normal’ will help us identify people who might require specific treatments to improve their functioning.

If you are aged between 5 and 18 year, or know someone who is, then click here to volunteer in this study.

Practical details of this experiment:

  • Location: At your computer, in your home
  • Duration of trial: Maximum of 20 minutes
  • What do I have to do? Perform an online task
  • What do you get? Benefits of future therapies which may result from the research
  • Children must have the permission of their parent/guardian to participate
  • You will be able to access our study/publications/blogs related to the experiment

Contact information: Dr James McAuley, Senior Research Officer, T: +612 9399 1273, E: j.mcauley@neura.edu.au

See what’s going on at NeuRA

FEEL THE BUZZ IN THE AIR? US TOO.

Spinal Cord Injury Breakthrough

Researchers from NeuRA, the University of New South Wales
the University of Sydney,
and HammondCare have found surviving sensory spinal nerve connections in 50 per cent of people living with complete thoracic spinal cord injuries. The study, which is part of
a decade-long collaboration between the researchers, used cutting-edge functional MRI (fMRI) technology to record neural response to touch. It was  Dr Sylvia Gustin who analysed the fMRI images to identify the moment the patient’s brain registered the touch. “Seeing the brain light up to touch shows that despite the complete injury to the thoracic spine, somatosensory pathways have been preserved,” explains Dr Gustin. “It’s fascinating that although the patients did not ‘feel’ the big toe stimulation in the experiment, we were able to detect a significant signal in response to the touch in the brain’s primary and secondary somatosensory cortices, the thalamus, and the cerebellum.” For those living with a complete spinal cord injury this means, despite previously believing
the communication to the brain had been severed in the injury, messages are still being received. Dr Gustin describes this new category of spinal cord injury as ‘discomplete’ “The current classification system is flawed. It only contains two types of spinal cord injury – complete and incomplete,” says Dr Gustin. “It is important we acknowledge there is a third category – the ‘discomplete’ injury, only then we can provide better treatment regimens for the many sufferers of a complete spinal cord injury.” For those newly classified as ‘discomplete’, this discovery opens up new opportunities to identify those people living with a spinal cord injury that are more likely to benefit from treatments aimed at improving sensation and movement. Because of this study, research participant, James Stanley, now knows he belongs to a new category. “It is exciting to know that there
is a connection there, that my toe is trying to say hello to my brain,” says James. “If medical professionals can work to identify people like me with a ‘discomplete’ injury earlier, perhaps they can find new treatments and rehabilitation techniques. “The thought that one day I might be able to feel the sand between my toes again, or the waves wash over my feet gives me hope. It’s something Dr Gustin’s discovery has made possible.”
PROJECT