Our research relies on the generosity of the volunteers who participate in our experiments. We’d like to thank everyone who has participated for us to date.
If you’re interested in volunteering for one of our on-going studies, you can find some information about what it’s like to participate below. If you have any further questions, please feel free to Contact us – we’ll be happy to hear from you!
CURRENT OPPORTUNITIES TO PARTICIPATE
Measuring Cerebral Asymmetries study
Left and right handed participants needed! We’re looking for volunteers aged 16-50 for a multi-session study on language processing. The first part is online. The second is in-person and involves a non-invasive ultrasound technique (fTCD) to measure blood flow to the brain. A small number of participants will be invited to complete a third session, which will be online. All sessions will last 1-2 hours. You’ll be compensated for your time and travel expenses.
This study is being conducted at 5 research sites. If you’re interested in participating, please contact us using the email address for the site closest to you:
- Bangor: email@example.com
- Lancaster: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lincoln: email@example.com
- London: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Oxford: email@example.com
What’s it like to participate?
We use a variety of different techniques to investigate lateralisation – i.e. how active the left and right sides of the brain are during a specific task. Here are some examples of what you might expect for different types of studies. If you’d like more detail about any of them, please Contact us.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are currently running a number of experiments online. These experiments may include activities such as filling in questionnaires or performing online tasks. They can be performed from home, provided you have a quiet place to do the tasks, where you won’t be disturbed.
functional transcranial doppler ultrasound (fTCD)
We use fTCD (also referred to as ‘Doppler’) to investigate how active the left and right sides of the brain are during tasks, such as speaking or listening to speech. FTCD uses ultrasound signals to measure the speed of blood flow in the arteries that supply blood to the left and right sides of the brain. By comparing the two, we can calculate whether activity is ‘lateralised’, i.e. stronger on one side than the other.
FTCD is harmless and painless and carries no significant risk to participants. A headset (as shown below) is placed on the head and adjusted to give a snug fit. A small amount of gel is placed just in front of each ear, and an ultrasound probe is held in place over this. Positioning of the probes can take 10-15 minutes. After that, participants are asked to perform the tasks, which may last around 1-2 hours, but this will depend on the experiment. We make sure to allow plenty of breaks to make sure it’s not too tiring.
FTCD experiments have to be conducted face-to-face, typically at the university running the experiment. Due to COVID-19 safety requirements, procedures are in place to maintain social distancing as far as possible, but it is necessary to be in contact in order to set up the headset. Both the experimenter and participant will wear personal protective equipment, and all surfaces and equipment will be thoroughly cleaned between participants.
Functional Magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
FMRI is another method that we use to measure laterality during tasks, such as speaking or listening to speech. It allows us to see which parts of the brain are active during a specific task. We use it to give us more information about which parts of the brain show ‘lateralisation’ – i.e., which brain regions show more activity in the left or right halves of the brain.
MRI is safe and non-invasive. However, as it uses a large magnet to work, MRI scans are not suitable for everybody. Because of this, you will be asked pre-screening safety questions to help determine if you are able to take part. For example, if you suffer from claustrophobia, or have any metal in your body that can’t be removed (such as shrapnel or medical implants), you could not be scanned. Please ask us if you have any queries about this.
As with fTCD, we will used enhanced procedures to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission during fMRI scanning, including cleaning and the use of personal protective equipment.