Dr Ranmalee Eramudugolla

RESEARCHER PROFILE


Dr Ranmalee Eramudugolla is a research manager in the Anstey Lab at NeuRA. She has a background in clinical neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience, and works on projects examining cognitive ageing, dementia, and driving safety in older adults. This work involves longitudinal cohort studies and randomised controlled trials of behavioural interventions. She is currently involved in the Driving, Ageing Safety and Health (DASH) project, the Better Drive 2 Trial, and the PATH Through Life Project at NeuRA, and as an associate investigator on an Aboriginal dementia prevention trial led by BakerIDI. Her research interests include neurocognitive assessment, cognitive interventions and risk factors for cognitive decline.

Projects Dr Ranmalee Eramudugolla is currently involved with

CURRENT PROJECTS

The Auditory Ageing Study (AUDACIOUS)

Can you hear our call?!  Researchers at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and The University of New South Wales are studying how adults experience declines in their hearing, how this interferes with communication and their day-to-day lives.

What is the purpose of this study?

To investigate the relationship between age-related hearing decline and cognitive abilities in older adults.

What does the study involve?

If you are interested in this study you will be invited to our study site at NeuRA in Randwick to complete a two-hour interview.

The interview will include test of your hearing and cognitive functioning including app-based activities testing memory, learning and attention. You will also be asked to complete a questionnaire about your general health, hearing and daily lifestyle.

Who can volunteer?

You may be eligible to participate on our research if

  • You are 65 years of age or older
  • Are able to make your own way to our interview site at NeuRA in Randwick
  • You have not experienced lifelong hearing difficulties
  • You do not need to have hearing difficulties to participate in this study.

Will I be reimbursed?

Your participation in the study is totally voluntary. You will be reimbursed $30.00 for participating in the study.

Contact

If you would like to take part in this research study please contact

Ms Dominique Sepulveda

Phone: (02) 9399 1135

Email: audacious@neura.edu.au

Or register your interest and we will be in contact with you shortly:

 

Chief Investigator: Dr Kim Kiely

Phone: (02) 9399 1154

Email: k.kiely@neura.edu.au

Funding

The project is funded by the Dementia Australia Research Foundation (DARF)

 

Ethical approval

This study has been approved by the UNSW Human Research Ethics Committee.

HREC number: HC190216

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The Auditory Ageing Study (AUDACIOUS)

The Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life Project 

The Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life Project is co-hosted by the Australian National University and the University of New South Wales and has been led by Professor Anstey since 2006. It is a large on-going population-based longitudinal cohort study comprising approximately 7500 participants. The study includes three cohorts including a younger (aged 20–24 at baseline), midlife (aged 40–44 at baseline) and older (aged 60–64 at baseline) adults randomly sampled from the electoral roll of the ACT and the nearby city of Queanbeyan. Additional waves of data collection have occurred in 4-year increments, with the 5th wave of data collection underway. The study involves many national and international collaborations.

The broad aims of the PATH study relate to clinical outcomes that constitute the major burden of disease within the Australian community.

Primary PATH Objectives:

  • To delineate the course of depression, anxiety, substance use and cognitive ability with increasing age across the adult life span
  • To identify environmental risk, genetic risk and protective factors influencing individual differences in the course of these characteristics
  • To investigate interrelationships over time between the three domains of: depression and anxiety, substance use, and cognitive ability and dementia
  • To examine the mental health related impact of various personal, social and lifestyle transitions and events experienced by the different age cohorts, including infertility, fertility and pregnancy, changes in family structure, relationship formation and separation, menopause, and retirement.

Several design features of the PATH project contribute to its unique standing among population-based longitudinal cohort studies.

  • Obtaining measures of genetic, biological (including MRI), psychosocial and lifestyle risk and protective factors for mental health and wellbeing
  • Use of a narrow age cohort design with longitudinal follow ups as an optimal means of separating age and cohort effects
  • Assessment of participants across the full adult lifespan, permitting investigation of developmentally significant, though under-studied periods such as midlife
  • Recruitment and follow up of a young-old population, providing important pre-clinical data for studying the development of age-related changes in memory and cognition.

This project has been funded primarily by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Wave 5 40s and 60s follow-ups (led by Professor Kaarin Anstey) are funded by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research. 

For more information, please visit the study website at www.pathstudy.org.au. PATH participants can also contact the research team by phone on 1300 917 295.

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The Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life Project 

The Driving, Ageing, Safety and Health (DASH) project

Older adults represent a growing sector of the driving population in Australia, and while driving can be important for maintaining social engagement in late life, age-related changes such as cognitive and visual impairment can impact on driving safety.

The Driving, Ageing, Safety and Health (DASH) project is designed to develop and validate screening measures for older drivers to support determinations of driving safety. The DASH project is a collaboration with Joanne Wood and the Queensland University of Technology.

Over 550 older drivers, across three groups, were followed for two years to evaluate how well laboratory assessments and an on-road test predict driving outcomes. The three groups included a) older drivers referred for assessment by GPs and Road Safety Authorities, b) older drivers with eye disease and c) older drivers drawn from the community.

Primary Aims:

Secondary Aims:

  • To compare the efficacy of the Multi-D and other screening instruments in predicting prospective self-reported crash rates (derived from standardized monthly diaries) between three groups of older drivers
  • To evaluate the screening instruments and assessments in relation to mobility outcomes (driving cessation, driving frequency, driving distance) over two years and longer pending further funding
  • To collaborate with practitioners to develop clinical practice guidelines for using the Multi-D battery in the context of older driver assessment
  • To inform the development and design of interventions to prevent injuries among older drivers.

Findings from this research project will enable health professionals and licensing authorities to assist in their decision-making regarding the fitness to drive of older adults.

DASH is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

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The Driving, Ageing, Safety and Health (DASH) project

Better Drive Program

Current road safety policy for at-risk older drivers involves ‘fitness to drive’ assessment and either license restriction or revocation. However, research indicates that there is no clear evidence that mandatory testing lowers crash rates amongst older drivers, and that driving cessation in older adults is associated with increased rates of depression, social isolation, and general health decline.

The Better Drive program includes a series of studies evaluating interventions to improve driver skill. Two trials have been completed to date.

Trial 1 used a two-arm randomised controlled trial (RCT) approach to investigate the efficacy of individually tailored driving refresher lessons against a group-based refresher course on on-road driving performance, safety and crash risk in older adults. Findings indicate that although classroom based road rules workshops for seniors can lead to improvements in on-road driving skill, the inclusion of tailored driving instruction can significantly enhance safety and reduce crash-causing on-road errors relative to classroom based workshops alone.

Trial 2 used a two group (training, no-contact control) non-randomised design to examine the transfer of computerised speed of processing (SOP) training gains to cognitive measures that are known predictors of driving safety in older adults. Findings indicate that SOP training effects can be achieved with self-administered, online training at home, with some transfer to other known cognitive predictors of driving safety. However, differential effects of training may be observed for tasks requiring goal-directed search strategies rather than diffuse attention.

A third trial is currently underway. This trial uses a three-arm randomised controlled trial approach to assess the effectiveness of computerised cognitive training and tailored on-road skills training on driver safety in older adults. Data collection for this trial will be completed in 2019.

The Better Drive program has been funded by the NRMA Road Safety Trust.

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Better Drive Program

RESEARCH TEAM

PUBLICATIONS

Effect of tailored on-road driving lessons on driving safety in older adults: A randomised controlled trial.

Anstey KJ, Eramudugolla R, Kiely KM, Price J

Tailored driving lessons reduced the critical driving errors made by older adults. Longer term follow-up and larger trials are required.

Effect of Speed of Processing Training on Older Driver Screening Measures.

Eramudugolla R, Kiely KM, Chopra S, Anstey KJ

Computerized training for cognitive enhancement is of great public interest, however, there is inconsistent evidence for the transfer of training gains to every day activity. Several large trials have focused on speed of processing (SOP) training with some promising findings for long-term effects on daily activity, but no immediate transfer to other cognitive tests. Here, we examine the transfer of SOP training gains to cognitive measures that are known predictors of driving safety in older adults. Fifty-three adults aged 65-87 years who were current drivers participated in a two group non-randomized design with repeated measures and a no-contact matched control group. The Intervention group completed an average of 7.9 ( = 3.0) hours of self-administered online SOP training at home. Control group was matched on age, gender and test-re-test interval. Measures included the Useful Field of View (UFOV) test, a Hazard Perception test, choice reaction time (Cars RT), Trail Making Test B, a Maze test, visual motion threshold, as well as road craft and road knowledge tests. Speed of processing training resulted in significant improvement in processing speed on the UFOV test relative to controls, with an average change of -45.8 ms ( = 14.5), and effect size of ω = 0.21. Performance on the Maze test also improved, but significant slowing on the Hazard Perception test was observed after SOP training. Training effects on the UFOV task was associated with similar effects on the Cars RT, but not the Hazard Perception and Maze tests, suggesting transfer to some but not all driving related measures. There were no effects of training on any of the other measures examined. Speed of processing training effects on the UFOV task can be achieved with self-administered, online training at home, with some transfer to other cognitive tests. However, differential effects of training may be observed for tasks requiring goal-directed search strategies rather than diffuse attention.

The epidemiology of driving in later life: Sociodemographic, health and functional characteristics, predictors of incident cessation, and driving expectations.

Anstey KJ, Li X, Hosking DE, Eramudugolla R

Driving is normative for many older Australians in their 70s. Similar factors are associated with actual cessation and expectation of driving suggesting that older adults do have a sense of their expected driving life.

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