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

 

Woman has a sore back

Back Pain

Back pain is very common and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that makes it hard to move. About Our Research Our research is directed towards first understanding why some people with a low back pain don’t recover and develop longer term, or chronic, low back pain. We are developing and testing new interventions to treat those that already have chronic pain and approaches to prevent people from developing chronic pain in the first place. We are proposing that treatments targeting the brain in addition to traditional treatments might be more effective for reducing chronic low back pain. We are also proposing that rather than waiting to treat patients who already have chronic low back pain, much better outcomes are likely to be achieved if we intervene early to reduce the risk of developing chronic low back pain after an acute episode. To Participate In Our Research Please contact the Pain@NeuRA research team: email: pain@neura.edu.au Phone: 02 9399 1627

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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

CATS

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/

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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.

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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.

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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  

Digitally created arm showing muscles, bones, veins and arteries

Improving hand function after stroke

Stroke often affects both our ability of our hands to feel and our ability to contract muscles. Sensory and motor functions are tightly linked. Yet, most rehabilitation strategies aimed at regaining dexterity after stroke largely focus only on motor recovery. We have previously found that some stroke patients have a disorganised touch perception map. When a patient is touched in one location on the hand while their eyes are closed, they feel it in some other location.  There is little awareness of this condition, and it is generally not detected during routine neurological examination as even patients themselves are not aware of it. Our recent study revealed that it is possible to correct this scrambled map, leading to improved motor functioning. This new evidence means that we can now focus on creating new rehabilitation strategies that can help patients to regain normal sensation and fine motor skill after a stroke. If you would like to obtain information how to volunteer in research on stroke please contact Dr Ingvars Birznieks, Tel 9399 1672, i.birznieks@neura.edu.au

Research participant lifts weight in stroke rehab study

Improving rehabilitation after stroke

Every year more than 60,000 Australians suffer a stroke and this number will only increase with the aging population the growing epidemics of obesity, physical inactivity and diabetes. Because there is no cure for stroke, the only method to improve functional movement is through rehabilitation. But we need to understand how rehabilitation works, and which patients will benefit most. We are studying patients who have weakness on one side of their body 3-12 months after a single stroke. We are comparing a new and promising strategy, Wii therapy, against the current best practice - constraint induced movement therapy in a randomised control trial. Both therapies have been shown to improve upper limb functional movement after an intense 2 week program of rehabilitation.

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Mother-infant attachment

We are recruiting mothers and infants for a study using fMRI to explore mother-infant attachment. We are looking for healthy controls as well as mothers with a severe mood disorder. Participation involves questionnaires, an assessment of mother-infant interaction, an assessment of infant development as well as the fMRI for mums. Participants are compensated for their time and travel costs. If you are interested, or know someone who might be suitable, please contact Janan Karatas at j.karatas@unsw.edu.au or call 0413 787 115.

The multi-faceted project involves a collaboration between the University of Wollongong (Centre for Human and Applied Physiology along with the School of Psychology), Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) at UNSW, Monash University and RMIT. (r to l) Associate Professor Nigel Taylor from the Centre for Human and Applied Physiology, Project Manager for the program and Senior Research Officer with NEURA, Dr Liz De Rome, hooks up test case Dr Greg Peoples, with Research Assistant Liz Taylor.

Motorcycle Protective Clothing Study

Neuroscience Research Australia is researching the use of protective clothing among motorcyclists. We are interested in: Understanding more about the benefits riders see in the use of protective clothing Understanding more about how riders choose the clothing they wear when riding Understanding more about the challenges faced by riders in using protective clothing when they ride If you are a motorcyclist aged 18 years and over and have ridden on-road in the previous month, you may be able to take part in our study. 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 1-2 hour focus group with other motorcycle riders in NSW. Travel costs will be reimbursed and lunch will be provided on the day. Your participation can help us develop a better understanding of what benefits and challenges the rider experience when using protective clothing, and how to best communicate with riders about protective clothing. If you would like more information on the study please contact Catherine Ho on 9399 1848 or on email: c.ho@neura.edu.au. Alternatively, to register your availabilities for the focus groups, please click here to fill in a quick survey and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible. Related downloads Information on the Motorcycle In-Depth Crash Study

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Muscle and tendon properties in child cerebral palsy

We are seeking individuals for a study aiming to investigate the mechanical properties of muscles and tendons in the leg. We hope to understand more about how the length and stiffness of muscles change with contracture associated with cerebral palsy, and how that affects the ability to function. Our study uses non-invasive and pain-free techniques to measure musculoskeletal architecture. This includes having an ultrasound scan as well as an MRI scan. To be considered for this study, participants must be aged between 6 and 16 years, and: have an ankle contracture associated with having cerebral palsy, OR must display typical motor development and be free of lower limb musculoskeletal pathology Participants will be asked to undergo a single session of testing that will take place at NeuRA. The study lasts for approximately 2 hours. Participants will be reimbursed with movie tickets and have their transportation/parking expenses paid. If you would like to learn more about this study, please contact Arkiev D’Souza at 02 9399 1832 or a.dsouza@neura.edu.au

Research participant lifts weight in stroke rehab study

Muscle and tendon properties in stroke

We are seeking individuals for a study aiming to investigate the mechanical properties of muscles and tendons in the leg. We hope to understand more about how the length and stiffness of muscles change with contracture after stroke and how that affects the ability to function. Our study uses non-invasive and pain-free techniques to measure musculoskeletal architecture. This includes having an ultrasound scan as well as an MRI scan. To be considered for this study, participants must • have a stroke-related ankle contracture, OR • display typical motor development and be free of lower limb musculoskeletal pathology Participants will be asked to undergo a single session of testing that will take place at NeuRA. The study lasts for approximately 2 hours. Participants will be reimbursed $50 and have their transportation/parking expenses paid. If you would like to learn more about this study, please contact Arkiev D’Souza at 02 9399 1832 or a.dsouza@neura.edu.au

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Online Motor Imagery Task

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

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Preventing Falls

This study aims to determine whether an individualised exercise and home hazard reduction program can reduce the rates of falls in older people living in the community with cognitive impairment or dementia. The Intervention program involves:- • A personal exercise program to improve strength and balance and home hazard reduction program delivered by experienced therapists. • Support and advice to carers to help their family member/friend to perform the exercises. Note: As this is a research study only half of the participants will be randomly allocated to receive the intervention program and the other half will not. This will be determined randomly like when tossing a coin. To participate, you must be: 65 years of age or older English-speaking (due to the assessments we use) Community-dwelling or live in a retirement village Living in the Sydney metropolitan area With cognitive impairment or dementia Has a family member or close friend with regular face-to-face contact (carer) >3.5hrs/week No acute medical illnesses or progressive neurological disease such as Parkinson's This study will involve assessments of your fall risk, using measures of strength, balance, vision, reaction time and walking. You will be asked some questions about your general health, physical activities, medication use and falls history. If you are interested in participating or have any questions, please contact the I-FOCIS Research Team on 02 9399 1851 or by email atiFOCIS@neura.edu.au

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Probabilistic association learning

We are recruiting healthy adults between 18 and 45 years of age to take part in a study of the relationship among probabilistic association learning (a type of non-conscious learning), schizotypal personality traits (involving odd behaviours and/or beliefs in some people), striatal function (an area deep inside the brain shown to be important for this type of non-conscious learning) and genes important to striatal function. All participants will be asked to complete (within two hours) three questionnaires, a computerized learning test, six brief “pencil and paper” cognitive tests and to provide a blood sample for genetic analysis. Some participants (based on their questionnaire scores) will be asked to come back to receive a functional magnetic resonance image scan of the brain. Reimbursement of $20.00 per visit will be provided for your time and for out-of-pocket expenses. If you have any questions or are interested in participating, please feel free to contact the research team. Isabella Jacomb at 02 9399 1858, email i.jacomb@neura.edu.au Dr Tom Weickert at 02 9399 1130, email: t.weickert@neura.edu.au

Researcher views video feed from sleep lab

Sleep apnoea

Why do some people develop obstructive sleep apnoea? Why does their airway collapse multiple times per hour during sleep, while others are able keep their airway open and get a sound night’s sleep? WHO CAN PARTICIPATE? People with diagnosed OSA: Aged 18-75 years and not currently treated. OR People without OSA: Aged 40-75 years and with no major illnesses. WHY PARTICIPATE? To help us to understand how the function of the upper airway muscles, sensation in the airway, and the brain all control breathing muscles and how these things contribute to obstructive sleep apnoea. We hope this will lead to personalised treatments of sleep apnoea in the future. WHAT DOES THE STUDY INVOLVE? An overnight sleep study and an MRI scan at NeuRA. For healthy volunteers who have not had a sleep study before, there will be one extra night to test whether you have sleep apnoea. You will be reimbursed up to $150 for the overnight sleep study, an additional $50 for healthy control participants who have not had a sleep study before and $20 per hour for any extra time spent completing the MRI scan. If you have any questions, or if you are interested in participating, please contact Fiona Knapman on 02 9399 1843 or via email: f.knapman@neura.edu.au.

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Smartstep – balance and brain training

This study aims to investigate the benefits of balance training and brain training on physical functions (balance and mobility), cognitive functions, general health and accidental fall events in people aged 65+ years. The smartstep training system has been designed to enable you to undertake training in your own home, by playing engaging and enjoyable computer games. The system connects to a TV or computer monitor. The games are played with either a step mat (Figure 1) or a touch pad (Figure 2). These games have been designed to train important balance and cognitive functions, while also being fun. You may recognise some of the games, such as Space Invaders and Tetris (Figure 3). To participate, you must be: • 65 years of age or older • English-speaking • Living in the Sydney metropolitan area • Able to perform everyday activities independently (eg.walk household distances) • Have no neurodegenerative condition such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. • Agreeable to participate for 1 year.     Smartstep Step Mat (Figure 1)                            Smartstep Touch Pad (Figure 2) This study will involve an initial appointment at NeuRA to assess your fall risk, using measures of strength, balance, vision, reaction time, stepping, walking and cognitive function. You will be asked some questions about your general health, physical activities, medication use and falls history. After the baseline assessments, you will be randomly assigned to one of three groups: 1. The step training group: You will receive a step mat and game system and be asked to play for 120 minutes/week for 1 year. 2. The seated training group: You will receive a touch pad and game system and be asked to play for 120 minutes/week for 1 year. 3. The control group: you will receive information regarding health and fall prevention. If you are interested in participating or have any questions, please contact the smartstep team by telephone: (02)9399 1127 or email: smartstep@neura.edu.au Space Invaders and Tetris computer games (Figure 3)

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Standing Tall

We are looking for volunteers aged 70 and over to participate in a study called Standing Tall. This study aims at improving older adults' balance and reducing their risk of having a fall. Standing Tall is a challenging, safe, evidence-based exercise program to improve your balance at home. The exercises are delivered through an iPad and are fully tailored to your abilities. You will be provided with an iPad for the duration of the study. To participate, you must be: 70 years of age or older English-speaking Community-dwelling or live in a retirement village Living in the Sydney metropolitan area Be able to perform everyday activities independently No neurodegenerative condition such as Parkinson's, MS, Dementia or Alzheimer's This study will involve assessments of your fall risk, using measures of strength, balance, vision, reaction time, stepping and walking. You will be asked some questions about your general health, physical activities, medication use and falls history. No matter how your balance is, if you are over 70 years of age and live in the Sydney metropolitan area, this program is for you. If you are interested in participating or have any questions, please contact the Standing Tall Research Team on 02 9399 1888 or by email at standingtall@neura.edu.au.

Dr Phu Hoang

Step training for people with MS

What is the purpose of this study? To investigate whether a 6-month period of training using a stepping device can improve your balance, thinking skills and reduce your risk of falling. What does the study involve? If you are interested in this study you will be invited to NeuRA in Randwick, to undertake a falls risk assessment and step performance test. This involves measuring the strength in your legs, and ability to stand still on different surfaces and walking ability. You are free to use mobility aids that you use in daily activities. After the assessments you will be randomly allocated to one of two groups: exercise booklet or stepping exercise. If you are allocated to the exercise booklet group you, will be given a series of exercises to practice for 6 months. If you are allocated to the stepping exercise group, you will be provided with the smartstep computerised step training system. The smartstep training system has been designed to enable you to undertake training in your own home, by playing engaging and enjoyable computer games. The system connects to a TV or computer monitor and are played with a step mat. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="354"] Smartstep - step mat[/caption] These games have been designed to train important balance and cognitive functions, while also being fun. You may recognise some of the games, such as Space Invaders and Tetris. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="376"] Smartstep - computer games[/caption] During the 6 months of the study we ask that you try play the stepping games for 120 minutes per week. You will be able to contact us at any time throughout the study if you have any questions about the system.While participating in the study, whether you are in the normal or stepping exercise group, you can continue your routine exercises such as hydrotherapy, riding bicycle, yoga, tai chi, gym, etc. You will be asked to keep a diary of falls during the 6 months of the study and 6 months after completion of the study.Following the 6-month exercise period, you will be invited to return to NeuRA Randwick for follow-up assessments. These assessments are identical to the assessments that you would have completed at the beginning. Participants can also take part in 2 optional sub-studies related to the main study with the aims to a) investigate whether exercises using a stepping training system would improve sensation in the joint and muscles and muscular performance in lower limbs of people with multiple sclerosis and b) determine the relationship between sleep disruption and its consequences on balance and fall risks in people with multiple sclerosis. The study is currently recruiting people in Metropolitan Sydney. Who can enrol? People who have confirmed diagnosis of MS, aged between 18 and 70 years, living in the community. To be included in the study, MS participants need to be: • Mobile and able to walk at least 100 meters with or without mobility aid • Able to understand and follow instructions • Having stable MS (with or without disease modifying drugs) with no exacerbation in the past 3 months • And currently not involved in any balance-specific exercise programs. Will I be reimbursed? Your participation in the study is totally voluntary. You will be reimbursed for expenses associated with participation in the study such as travel to NeuRA. 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: ph (02) 9399 1127, email ifims@neura.edu.au Chief Investigators: Professor Stephen Lord, Dr Phu Hoang, Dr Daina Sturnieks and other members of the Motor Impairment program. HREC Approval Number: HC14211

brain training and fitness

Thinking problems in schizophrenia

We are recruiting people with schizophrenia to take part in a study on transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (a very weak electrical field to stimulate the brain). We hope to learn how this treatment may influence auditory hallucinations, symptoms, and thinking. We will reimburse you for expenses. If you have any questions, or if you are interested in participating, please feel free to contact us: Isabella Jacomb on 02 9399 1858, i.jacomb@neura.edu.au Dr Tom Weickert on 02 9399 1730, t.weickert@neura.edu.au Click here for information on this study.

Digitally created image of inner ear

Vestibular

We are seeking healthy individuals aged 40 years and over for a study aiming to improve clinical tests of vestibular (balance) function. By investigating and optimising current recording techniques our research seeks to advance the identification of disease or impairment in older subjects, and this is of particular importance as the normal effects of aging often obstruct underlying balance issues. Our study uses non-invasive techniques to record muscle activity (using skin surface electrodes) in response to brief stimulation of the balance organs. To be considered, participants must have: no history of inner ear pathology (dizziness or vertigo) that required hospitalization no neurological illness no conductive hearing loss Participants will be asked to undergo a single session of testing that will take place at the Prince of Wales hospital. The study lasts for approximately 1 to 1.5 hrs. Interested participants can contact Danielle Dennis (d.dennis@neura.edu.au) or Sendhil Govender (s.govender@neura.edu.au) for further information or ring 93822430. Participants can be reimbursed up to a value of $50 for any travel or parking expenses incurred during their visit.

Balance_vision

Vision, Posture and Balance

Vision, Posture and Balance Study (Optic Flow) - This study has now been completed We asked - how good is your balance? Would you like to know your Falls Risk Score? We asked for older adults to participate in this study looking at how vision influences posture and balance. Participants were: Aged 60 years and older In fair to good health - good vision when wearing glasses, no neurological disorders Able to stand for 60 seconds without a support The aims of this study was to determine: 1. Whether balance, posture and standing body alignment and muscle activity are affected by vision differ between young and older people and between older people at low and high risk of falls 2. Whether an over-reliance on vision for balance control might increase the risk of falls The study involved an assessment with a series of interesting tests evaluating your vision, strength, reaction time, sensation, balance and mobility. All procedures are safe and are routinely used in clinical and research settings. Study participants received an assessment report on their balance with recommendations for minimising the risk of falling. The study was completed over a 2 hour session at Neuroscience Research Australia in Randwick, NSW.