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.
Evidence related to dementia risk factors continues to increase with advancement in study methodology and more research being published in the field of dementia prevention. WHO guidelines for risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia has published the latest evidence on the risk factors in mid and late life. There is a need of a new risk assessment tool that can be used both in population and clinical settings which would incorporate the latest evidence for the risk factors of dementia.
What is CogDrisk?
The CogDrisk project led by Professor Kaarin Anstey at NeuRA. The project aims to develop and validate a new risk assessment tool for assessing individual exposure to risk factors known to be associated with an increased risk of developing dementia. The tool will be developed from risk estimates selected from latest systematic reviews and meta-analyses. External validation of the tool will be carried out using five high standard international cohorts for discrimination and accuracy of predicting dementia cases.
Who will use the CogDrisk?
The assessment tool will be available online to the public, researchers and clinicians. Individuals aged 18 years and above can take the assessment to assess their risk of developing dementia, get a risk profile, and recommendations to reduce their risk of developing dementia. A risk score along with recommendations to reduce their dementia risk will be provided to individuals aged 60 years and above.
What are the benefits of the CogDrisk?
Those who are interested to take the assessment (anyone over the age of 18 years) can do so at a time convenient to them and can redo the assessment later to see if they changed their risk of developing dementia.
For many older adults, driving is essential for independence and participation in life. However, ageing is associated with a range of physical, sensory, and cognitive changes, some of which can influence driving safety. Neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia can progress very gradually, and regular monitoring is required to identify the point at which driving becomes unsafe. Current methods of monitoring road safety for older drivers relies on regular reviews with doctors or expensive and stressful driving tests. These methods are resource intensive and inefficient. Thus, there is a need for more cost-effective and less invasive ways of monitoring road safety for older drivers. The Changing Memory, Technology and Driving study (MemTech) will investigate whether a dashboard camera and a GPS data logger can be used to accurately measure changes in safety during an older driver’s everyday driving trips. The study will involve older drivers who are experiencing changes in their thinking and memory or early stages of dementia, as well as older drivers without any cognitive difficulties. This will allow data to be compared across the two groups to determine whether the in-vehicle GPS devices can detect changes in driver safety associated with cognitive change. If it can, this will provide valuable research data for the future development of accurate in-vehicle monitoring systems for older driver safety.
This research is being funded by the Office of Road Safety.
If you would like to take part in this research study, please contact
Ms Abirami Raveendran
Phone: (02) 9399 1058
Researchers at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and University of New South Wales (UNSW) are inviting people who have noticed changes in their memory or thinking, or have a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), to participate in a voluntary research trial investigating dementia risk reduction.
What is the MyCoach Trial about?
This research aims to test the effectiveness of a healthy lifestyle intervention designed to support healthy brain ageing and reduce dementia risk. The course is tailored for people experiencing changes or concerns in thinking, memory or cognition. The intervention will run for 12 weeks, and the study will also involve a 13-week, 6-month and 1-year follow-up interview (more information below).
What is involved in this research trial?
Interested volunteers will complete an eligibility screening to confirm this study is a good match. Next, volunteers will be randomised into one of two groups: MyCoach Intervention or Email information. To ensure the research is fair and unbiased, the group is chosen randomly – like pulling names from a hat.
You may be eligible to participate in the MyCoach Trial if you:
Expressions of interest
If you are interested, or know someone who might be, please register below or contact us directly on 02 9399 1853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Centre of Research Excellence in Cognitive Health focuses on the integrally linked areas of optimising cognitive health and the prevention of cognitive decline.
The centre aims to:
The CRE Cognitive Health led by Professor Kaarin Anstey is a collaboration between Chief and Associate Investigators from the Australian National University, University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales, Australian Catholic University, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute and University of Exeter.
The CRE Cognitive Health is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
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:
Several design features of the PATH project contribute to its unique standing among population-based longitudinal cohort studies.
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.
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.
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.
Driving is critical for enabling mobility and community participation in older Australians, with over 90% of those aged in their 70s being licensed drivers. There is an urgent need for evidence-based methods for enhancing and maintaining older drivers’ skills – methods that are ready for translation into cost-effective and practical interventions.
The Better Drive Trial is a three-arm randomised controlled trial that assesses the effectiveness of different driver education types on safety outcomes for older adults. The relative effectiveness of tailored lessons, road-rule workshops and feedback on older drivers on road safety will be assessed in over 384 participants over 2 years. If effective, interventions will improve driving safety, reduce costs associated with crashes, and maintain social participation.
Our multidisciplinary team has expertise in cognitive ageing, psychology, occupational therapy, behaviour change and injury prevention, and proven records of designing and implementing RCTs of behavioural interventions for improving safety in older adults. The outcomes of the project will lead to the development of community programs for older drivers that seek to maintain mobility and community participation.
The Better Drive Trial is funded by the NHMRC and is expected to run for 5 years.
Project Manager (PATH Through Life Project), UNSW Canberra
: 1300 917 295 (PATH)
DR SOPHIE ANDREWS
Senior Research Fellow – DECRA, UNSW Psychology
: 9399 1076
: 9399 1021
Tailored driving lessons reduced the critical driving errors made by older adults. Longer term follow-up and larger trials are required.
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.
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.