Sign onto Ryerson’s Senior Participant Pool (RSPP) database and contribute to the work of 7 Psychology and Cognition labs.
Ryerson senior participant pool, 105 Bond St. Toronto. Photo courtesy of Google Street View Ryerson senior participant pool, 105 Bond St. Toronto. Photo courtesy of Google Street View

Seven laboratories at Ryerson University look to the Ryerson Senior Participant Pool for subjects to help with their brain research.

They’re interested in all aspects of the aging brain.

They would like to get to know you.

You’ll get the chance to participate in some fun and fascinating work. Not only that, but you’ll be able to choose which study you want to be part of. If the one that you’re offered doesn’t interest you, just pass on it. You’ll be called for others. Check out the Ryerson Participant Pool.

I’ve been a volunteer subject several times, in similar research at a different facility.

In my case, I responded to an ad. But I think anybody could call and offer to participate. I imagine that the Ryerson research process is similar. There’s nothing intimidating.

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Some of the tests I took were on paper, others were on a computer, with very simple alternative-key responses.

One was a functional MRI – an MRI that records a video of the parts of the brain lighting up as they go to work.  I had to bail out of that one because I couldn’t get comfortable in the headset full of sensors.

That broke my heart; I really wanted to see my brain working on solving problems.

Regardless, the facility where I volunteered still calls me for other studies.

A range of research projects

Ryerson’s brain research ranges from how emotion and motivation influence memory and decision making, to how music can be used to support brain plasticity (the ability of the brain to grow new neural connections) in support of emotional communication. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to ask the researcher a few questions.

Obviously, their time is limited. But my experience at the facility where I participated tells me that the researcher likely would want to engage with you.

Check out the 7 Ryerson labs

Be sure you clicked on any highlighted phrases in the brief description of each lab. They’re the route to a fuller description of the study area. They’re also the way to meet the folks conducting the studies. The Senior Participant Pool database connects all the labs; that widens the areas of research for your potential participation. So you get more choices of the stuff that intrigues you, and the work that looks like fun.

The more we know about the loss of memory, loss of cognition and the power to make decisions, the better our ageing will be.

Why participate? Good question…

According to Erika Sparrow, B.Sc, MA PhD Candidate, Psychological Science, Department of Psychology, Ryerson University, “my participants mention that they like to give back to research. Some mention that it’s good for them to ‘come downtown’, participate in a short study then meet a friend for lunch etc. Others are genuinely interested in our research as well!”

“I often get requests from participants to send me the results once they have been finalized (via conference presentation) or when the research is published.”

Erika studies healthy aging in her lab “Many (participants) do mention that they know someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or Mild Cognitive Impairment as diagnosed by a doctor.”

“Although our testing is in no way shape or form ‘diagnostic’ I think it gives some participant’s some reassurance in regards to their own cognitive status. For example, we administer measures that tap into both fluid and verbal intelligence and screen them for mild cognitive impairment. Some mention they go to the gym, but also need to ‘exercise their brain’.”

Volunteer and you’ll have a truly unique experience

The great thing about the brain research at Ryerson Senior Participant Pool, and at the facility where I went, is that you can learn more about yourself, at the same time as you help the researchers at these institutions study your brain. Why not volunteer today?

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