Volunteer for research

As a research participant at NeuRA, you will play a critical role in helping us advance the treatment and understanding of many diseases and conditions. By donating your time, you will help us provide excellence in the care of others.

What is involved?

Once enrolled as a research participant, we may invite you to take part in one or more research studies or activities such as:

  • interviews or questionnaires
  • cognitive assessments
  • physical tests
  • physiological recordings
  • imaging studies
  • collection of saliva or blood samples

In each instance, we will provide you with full details of the proposed study and ask for your written consent prior to participation. In most studies, you may be eligible for reimbursement of any expenses you may incur (e.g. parking or travel-related costs).

If you would like to register or find out more, please complete the online registration form, contact us on 02 9399 1155 or email us at volunteers@neura.edu.au.

Download our Research Participant Information Brochure (PDF)

Current opportunities



Brain control of movement

We are looking for volunteers to participate in a study of how the brain controls movement and how the brain compensates when there is damage to brain regions that control movement. To participate, you must be aged 50-70 years with no neurological condition or mental illness and live in either the Sydney or Adelaide metropolitan region. We are also looking for individuals with: restless legs syndrome Parkinson’s disease The study will involve an ultrasound of your head to obtain a picture of your brain. A neurologist will examine your movements and you will be asked to complete a short series of tests to assess thinking and memory. Some volunteers will then be asked to undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic stimulation of the brain. Both procedures are safe, painless, and are routinely used in clinical and research settings.  

Five teens in a row, chins resting in hands

Brain development in children and adolescents

How do children’s brains develop and change as they grow older? We would like your help to study this using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). WHO CAN PARTICIPATE? Healthy children and adolescents aged between 6-18 years. WHY PARTICIPATE? To help us to understand how the brain changes from childhood to adulthood. You will be contributing to research, which may help people with mental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. You will be reimbursed for your travel and parking costs to the clinic and every participant will receive two movie tickets and a picture of their brain to take home with them! For more information visit Prof Rhoshel Lenroot's page. Thinking about participating? Click here to find out what it's like to have an MRI.

Assoc Prof Tom Weickert with CATS study participant Leanne and research assistant Isabella Jacomb


Canakinumab adjunctive treatment to reduce symptoms and improve cognition in people with schizophrenia displaying elevated blood inflammatory markers HREC Approval Number: 14/072 What is the purpose of this study? You are invited to participate in a research study of a human immune cell-line antibody on language, memory, and symptoms of schizophrenia. This human immune cell-line antibody, canakinumab, is a class of medication that decreases the levels of the protein interleukin-1beta (IL-1β). The IL-1β protein is produced in response to inflammation in your body and canakinumab can decrease IL-1β protein and inflammation by blocking the pathway. We hope to learn how this human immune cell-line antibody, in addition to your normal antipsychotic medication, can also improve thought processing and reduce symptoms in people with schizophrenia, and to determine if this human immune cell-line antibody can be used as a new therapeutic treatment for thinking problems and symptoms in people with schizophrenia. What does the study involve? The study involves a one-time injection of canakinumab or placebo and 6 monitoring assessment visits over a 4-month period. The assessments include: An in-person screening interview Cognitive tests Symptom assessments Medical examinations and clinical interviews Blood collection Structural and functional MRI Who can enrol? Men or women age 18-55 years old with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. You must be taking antipsychotic medication for at least one year but you must not be taking clozapine and have no other psychiatric diagnoses, history of seizures, substance abuse (within past 3 years), head injury or loss of consciousness, central nervous system infections or other serious or chronic infections, and if a woman, you cannot be pregnant. Will I be reimbursed? Your participation in this study may have associated expenses. Reimbursement will be provided for your time and for out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel to the centre. Contact Information If you have any questions, or if you are interested in participating, please feel free to contact a member of the research team: Isabella Jacomb at 02 9399 1858, email: i.jacomb@neura.edu.au Dr Thomas W Weickert at 02 9399 1730, fax: 02 9399 1034, email: t.weickert@neura.edu.au

Young girl in rear seat child restraint

Child car seat

Thank you for visiting NeuRA online, and for showing interest in the research we do here. Who are we? Neuroscience Research Australia is one of the largest research institutes in Australia dedicated to the study of the brain and nervous system. We have an international reputation for research excellence. Areas of research include: injury prevention mental illness (e.g. schizophrenia, autism etc) ageing and neurodegeneration (e.g. dementia) sensation, movement, balance and falls brain structure and function neural injury What is this research study about? You are invited to take part in this research study. Our overall aim for this research project is to develop an evidence-based design guide for product information supplied with child restraint systems (car seats for children). To do this we are conducting two separate phases of studies about child restraints in cars. The first phase of focus groups will explore the use of current child restraint information materials and the second group involves consumer-testing to evaluate and enhance new materials. To participate in this project you need to meet the following inclusion criteria: Be over 18 years of age Hold a current drivers licence Conversant in English Do I have to take part in this research study? Participation in this research study is voluntary. If you don’t wish to take part, you don’t have to. Your decision will not affect your relationship with The University of New South Wales or Neuroscience Research Australia. This Participant Information tells you about the research study. It explains the research tasks involved. Knowing what is involved will help you decide if you want to take part in the research. If you decide you want to take part in this research project, you will be asked to: Indicate your consent to be contacted by following the link to a screening survey Do a quick screening survey which we will use to allocate you to one of the studies What does participation in this research require, and are there any risks involved? Once you register your interest, one of our researchers will contact you to give you more information about the studies we are conducting. We will then invite you to participate in either a focus group or consumer-testing cycle. In the focus groups we will discuss your experience with child seats and child car seat information. Each group will run for approximately 1-2 hours. Participants will be reimbursed for their travel costs and provided with morning or afternoon tea. If we ask you participate in the consumer-testing cycle, we will run an experiment in the lab and ask you to install a car seat. We will also ask you for feedback about the materials you used to do this. Participation in any aspect of this study is completely voluntary and you can withdraw at any time! Aside from giving up your time, we do not expect that there will be any risks or costs associated with taking part in this project. Will I be paid to participate in this project? You will be reimbursed for your time with a $25.00 voucher for your time. What are the possible benefits to participation? We hope to use information we get from this research study to benefit others who use child restraint systems by making the materials that are supplied with restraints easier to understand and thus safer for children. What will happen to information about me? By clicking on the survey link below and submitting the screening survey online you consent to the research team contacting you about participation in this study. What if I want to withdraw from the research study? If you do consent to be contacted and change your mind, you may withdraw at any time. You can ring the research team and tell them you no longer want to participate. Submitting your completed questionnaire is an indication of your consent to be contacted and invited to participate in the study. You can withdraw your responses if you change your mind about having them included in the study, up to the point that we have analysed and published the results. What should I do if I have further questions about my involvement in the research study? The person you may need to contact will depend on the nature of your query. If you want any further information concerning this project or if you have any problems which may be related to your involvement in the project, you can contact the following members of the research team: Research Team Contact Name: Catherine Ho Position: Research Assistant Telephone: 02 9399 1848 Email: c.ho@neura.edu.au Name: Alexandra Hall Position: PhD Student Telephone: 02 9399 1848 Email: a.hall@neura.edu.au If you would like to participate in this study, please follow the link below and fill out our survey. http://www.surveys.unsw.edu.au/f/161347/2303/


Children's Motorcycle and Off Road Vehicle Study

NeuRA is researching the riding patterns and behaviours of children and young people who ride off-road vehicles and motorcycles. In an effort to reduce the rate of injuries in children and young people riding off-road vehicles and motorcycles, we are conducting a study on how these vehicles are used. We are interested in: the parents/carers of Children 16 years and under who ride motorcycles and off-road vehicles more than twice a year. We are seeking to know more about the riding patterns, training and behaviours of children and young people who ride motorcycles and off-road vehicles for recreation, work or other purposes. Participation is completely voluntary, and participants are free to withdraw from the study at any time and for any reason. If you decide to participate, you will take part in a 20 minute online survey that is best completed with the child/young person. Your participation can help us develop a better understanding of what factors predict children being injured in crashes and reduce the rate of injuries. You can participate in the study by following this link: https://www.surveys.unsw.edu.au/f/160808/3716/ If you would like more information on the study, please contact Dr Chris Mulligan on 9399 1848 or on email: c.mulligan@neura.edu.au.

Prof Rhoshel Lenroot with young study participant next to MRI

Empathy MRI study

Why do some young people have a hard time acting as if they care about the feelings of other people, such as getting into fights, breaking rules, or doing things that can hurt others? Learning to understand how other people feel is an essential part of growing up. For some kids this comes easily, but for others it doesn’t, and can lead to these types of problems. We are working to understand what parts of the brain help us to recognise and react to other people’s emotions. We are studying this both in healthy boys and in boys who have conduct problems such as frequent arguments, breaking rules, or being aggressive. We are concentrating on boys right now because although both boys and girls can have these kinds of problems, they are more common in boys. Who can participate? Boys aged 8 through 16 years, either with a history of conduct problems or who have no history of mental health problems. What happens if your child participates? The study involves having a brain scan (known as a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)) exam) while looking at pictures of people who are showing different emotions. There are also some questionnaires and computer tests. A parent or carer will also be interviewed to get information about medical and mental health history. A link to a website and a video about having an MRI at NeuRA are below. Participants get a picture of their brain to take home with them, and travel costs and parking are reimbursed. Why participate? To help us understand how some young people have trouble recognising certain emotions. You will be contributing to research, which may someday help young people who have difficulty processing emotions. How do I learn more? To participate or for further information contact Dr Jason Bruggemann on (02) 9399 1881 or via email:j.bruggemann@neura.edu.au.

David Foxe with FTD study participant

FTD & Alzheimer's disease

The Frontier team is currently recruiting healthy adults, aged 50 years and over, for research aiding the diagnosis and treatment of dementia syndromes including frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Our group examines the cognitive, behavioural, psychological, and brain changes in individuals with dementia and measures their impact on patients and their families. Our group is also studying how changes in dementia differ from those seen in other brain disorders and in healthy ageing, to help improve the diagnosis of dementia. As part of this research, we require healthy volunteers to act as a comparison group. Participation in this study can involve a number of different tests of memory, language and other thinking abilities. We may also ask to take a blood sample, and an MRI brain scan may be offered. This all takes place at the NeuRA institute (any travelling costs will be reimbursed). If you are interested, or for more information, please contact frontier@neura.edu.au

Research participant Amanda Ayliffe with husband David

Genetics of Alzheimer's disease

Dementia is usually thought of as a disease of ageing. However, the burden of young onset dementia, with symptoms occurring before age 65, has recently been identified as an important area not well supported by the health care system. Dr Bill Brooks has continued his development of information and support systems for use by families that have early onset hereditary dementias. Spastic paraparesis, a form of lower limb paralysis, has frequently been associated with early onset Alzheimer's disease. However, in those individuals with spastic paraparesis, the onset of dementia is significantly delayed. Dr John Kwok and Professor Peter Schofield have shown that none of the genes that are known to cause spastic paraparesis are associated with this variant presentation of Alzheimer's disease. They are now using genetic linkage approaches to attempt to identify these modifier genes, which may provide therapeutic targets for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Professor Schofield has continued his support for the genetic analysis of two epidemiological studies led by campus colleagues, Professors Perminder Sachdev and Henry Brodaty. The Memory and Ageing study has recruited 1,000 individuals from the south-eastern region of Sydney while the Older Australian Twin Study is recruiting twins and their siblings from the eastern seaboard.

HIV dementia

HIV-associated dementia

We are currently recruiting healthy men aged 45 years and over for a study investigating the link between HIV infection and dementia. In conjunction with St Vincent's Hospital, the University of New South Wales and Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), the study aims to estimate the prevalence of memory and concentration difficulties in older individuals with long-term HIV infection, as well as the means (if any) by which long-term HIV infection contributes to the incidence of an illness like dementia. An important part of this study is recruiting healthy control participants as a comparison group. To participate, you must be: male 45 years old or older in good health, with no psychiatric or neurological disoders We will ask you to make two visits to St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney over an 18 month period. Each visit will last two hours, during which we will ask you to participate in a neuropsychological test of attention, memory, visuo-spatial and language function. We will also ask to take an MRI scan of your head (this involves lying quietly in the MRI scanner for 45 minutes). If you so chose, we can make the study results available to your doctor of choice. We will reimburse your travel/parking expenses. To participate, or for more information contact Dr Lucette Cysique on 0431 576 710 or via email: lcysique@unsw.edu.au.

children_soft tissue

How soft tissue changes

How does the elasticity of children’s bodies change as they grow? We need your help to study this using a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique called magnetic resonance elastography (MRE). WHO CAN PARTICIPATE? Healthy kids and adolescents between 5 and 18 years of age who can have an MRI scan. WHY PARTICIPATE? This research will help us to better understand how the soft tissues of the human body change during childhood and adolescence. This information is needed for many reasons, some of which include: To develop better computer models for use in surgical simulation; For the development of crash test dummies and developing crash testing standards for vehicles; As baseline data for healthy children against which changes caused by disease can be assessed. All participants will be reimbursed $50 to cover their travel costs and time associated with participating in the study. If you have any questions, or if you are interested in participating, please contact Lauriane Jugé on 02-9399-1872 or via email:l.juge@neura.edu.au