Neuroscience of habits for healthy ageing | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Neuroscience of habits for healthy ageing

Help us research the power of healthy habits.

We seek healthy adults to participate in research looking at how to help people age well and productively. Our researchers are investigating how people form, then change, a new habit and which brain regions are involved, to support healthy ageing.

Healthy ageing is an important part of improving quality of life in later years. Numerous strategies promoting healthy lifestyle behaviours and improve ageing focus on how to learn to do everyday activities habitually. This research will provide an understanding of how the brain is involved in performing habits and identify any age-related differences to help guide support for healthy brain ageing.

This study is expected to commence March-April 2024.

What's involved

The purpose of this research project is to investigate the brain regions involved in goal-directed and habitual behaviour.

Individuals who participate in this study will be contributing to the field of neuroscience. This study may inform behavioural change interventions to support healthy ageing.

Participation involves the following:

Online eligibility questionnaire

You will complete an online eligibility screen which will collect personal information including contact details and medical history. This information is used to determine whether you are eligible to participate in our research.

Approximately 20 minutes.

Telephone screen

A researcher will contact you via phone to discuss responses to your eligibility screen and confirm that you are eligible to participate.

Approximately 20 minutes.

Online pre-assessment questionnaire

You will complete pre-assessment questionnaires regarding mood, memory, and visual imagery. You will complete these questionnaires online via an emailed link prior to your in-person session. Example questions that will be asked include “how often you couldn’t seem to experience any positive feeling at all” and “how frequently do you fail to recognise places that you are told you have been to before”.

Aproximately 25 minutes.

In-person cognitive assessment

This will involve undertaking some thinking and memory tasks. This includes both computerised and pencil-and-paper style tasks and there will be a researcher present to guide and assist you.

Approximately 1 hour.

MRI brain scan

This is a non-invasive way to take detailed images of the brain. It requires you to lie still in the MRI scanner for approximately 1 hour whilst completing a computerised task. The task involves learning associations between shapes and food items. A researcher will be guide you through the task and be present throughout the scan. The MRI will be completed by trained radiographers at the Thompson Institute. People who are claustrophobic or have any metal fragments in their body (e.g., pacemaker or aneurysm clip) will not be able to take part in this component. MRI contraindications are captured during initial screen procedures and will result in preclusion from this study. This scan is different to standard ‘clinical’ MRI and is therefore not appropriate for diagnostic purposes. However, if any abnormalities are detected, we will contact and inform you so you can seek independent medical advice (such as from your GP).

Approximately 1 hour.

Who can take part

You could be eligible to participate if you are:

Take part

We're taking expressions of interest now for an expected March-April commencement.

To acknowledge your time and any travel-related expenses, you will receive a $30 reimbursement at the end of participation in the study. You will also receive a photo of your brain from the brain scan.

Contact us

To learn more contact PhD student, Chelsea Hennessy
Phone: +61 7 5456 5351