Baycrest Brain Rental

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve participated an interesting brain/auditory/memory study at Baycrest, Rotman Research Institute. The official, & very catchy name of the project is: “Individual differences in working memory processing in young and older adults indicated by neuromagnetic oscillations” It was spread over three sessions and proved to be one of the more intriguing studies I’ve done.

It was one that called on more of my brain. Usually the ‘memory’ studies I do involve remembering lists of words, numbers, replicating images. This is one of few that also involved hearing. One portion involved recording my brain signals with a magnetoencephalograph (MEG) while I was doing the task. While doing the task I had ear buds that were playing a variety of tones, pitches & different loudness levels.

The other portion involved hearing tests and testing understanding of speech in noise. I was to repeat a phrase (a different one each time) said against background of people talking. Sometime I get to practice at poetry readings where people not interested in the performance see fit to talk as loud as they can to drown out the performer (this happens more often than you’d expect.)

Doing this studies is a way for me give something back via research. Even when I was doing the pharmaceutical research I was aware that my tiny participation could save lives. I also felt it was important that, even though this information isn’t germane to the study, there be gay males included in the pool. And sometimes the money was decent. I’ve had more MRI’s cat scans, eegs, & MEGs than the average person too.

The most challenging part of the study was getting to Baycrest in the morning 🙂 I general transit to Lawrence Station & walk the rest of the way. I know where the Starbucks are. For this study I opted to go one stop further to York Mills & walk from there along Wilson. Turns out this route is faster. I like the opportunity to see other parts of the city & sample Starbucks. Plus I’m always eager for photo ops. If you’re interesting be a part of such research gave Baycrest a call. http://www.baycrest.org/participate/participate-in-research/

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#Neurobehavioral #Sequelae

Another day of renting my brain. This time my second session for a study that looks at ‘Neuroanatomical, neurofunctional and neurobehavioral sequelae of mild hypoxia following cardiac arrest’ or in other words ‘aims to co-relate risk factors for Cardiovascular disease with Cognitive abilities in cardiac arrest patients. In order to establish a baseline of results, we are currently testing with healthy adults who would serve as a control.’

train to where
train to where

Basically how much memory loss does cardiac arrest cause. It’s a four part study. The first session, which I’ve already done, was at Sunnybrook – where after explanation and an initial memory test – in which I sorted items in two groups into subgroups – then had to recall which went where when looking at a random set of those items with items I’d never seen mixed in.

stairs to where
stairs to where

The next stage was doing a similar task while getting an MRI scan – this part lasted about 70 minutes, of which part was spend on that task and rest then taking various scans – an MRI is like being stuck inside Aphex Twin or Squarepusher’s turntable as he looks for ‘beats’ & find a single four second sample that is then repeated, unaltered for seven minutes. Only the MRI sounds are never that interesting. Oh, yes, and you have to keep as still as possible while it’s going on. Even though ‘trance’ sets in easily for me I was so glad to get up from that table.

driver where
driver where

This second session (& the others) will be at Baycrest – somewhat easier to get to than Sunnybrook. The second session, today, was desk work – paper, pencil, then some computer stuff. All around memory & layers of memory i.e. remember assigned, random, three letters while counting backward by 3’s – for each backward count different letters & different number starting point – much harder than it sounds.

blue bottle flies
blue bottle flies