Babies and over 65s needed for UEA psychology research

Published by  News Archive

On 24th Jun 2022

An infant taking part in a research project at UEA.

From the very young to the somewhat older, psychology researchers at the University of East Anglia are looking for participants to help with two studies.

They’re looking for babies aged between five and 12 months to take part in a study about brain and behavioural development in children, and for over 65s to take part in dementia and stroke research.

Researchers studying child development are investigating a type of working memory called visual working memory, which is central to forming a rich understanding of the visual world.

They are looking for babies to take part in a project to test how equipment to measure visual working memory can be used at home.

Lead researcher Prof John Spencer, from UEA’s School of Psychology, said: “As adults, we use our visual working memory about 10,000 times a day to detect changes in the world or compare objects that cannot be viewed at the same time.

“But we know that ‘at-risk’ infants can show impairments in visual working memory as early as six months. Our goal is to detect problems at an early age. This could potentially allow assessment and intervention work to start earlier.

“To do this, we want to bring the lab into the home using basic laptop and webcam technology. We hope this will allow us to reach families nationwide without having to rely on expensive high-tech laboratory equipment.

“We are looking for families with babies aged between five and 12 months to try our new equipment at UEA. If successful, this will be rolled out to an in-home study.

“During the visit, infants will sit on the caregiver’s lap in front of a computer screen and see images of objects. We will record where the infant looks and for how long. The task takes only ten minutes and the whole visit should last less than half an hour.

“And infants receive a small gift for participating,” he added.

This study is part of a larger multi-national research project examining high risk infants in India and premature infants in the US. The work conducted at UEA could have a dramatic impact on the development of children worldwide.

To take part, visit https://bit.ly/3MXRKfE or contact child.scientist@uea.ac.uk for further information.

Researchers are also looking for people aged over 65 to help with several studies looking at the effects of neurological disease on visual, cognitive and brain function.

For example, in one of these studies, participants carry out drawing, tablet and computer tasks, and their performance is compared with that of stroke survivors.

Lead researcher Dr Stéphanie Rossit, from UEA’s School of Psychology, said: “After a stroke, around one in three people have problems with paying attention to things on one side of them, either the left or the right. This is called spatial neglect and it can affect a person’s awareness of the world and even of their own body. This severe condition reduces stroke recovery and the ability to carry out everyday tasks.

“We are looking at how people who haven’t had a stroke perform on our tasks. We can then compare performance with stroke survivors to help us understand more about visual and cognitive problems after stroke.”

The study is funded by The Stroke Association and is part of a multisite randomized clinical trial testing innovative tools for stroke assessment and rehabilitation running in five NHS trusts in the East of England.  

To find out more or register to take part visit https://bit.ly/3lqRPNk or email psy.panel@uea.ac.uk.
 

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