Research opportunities in Cambridge

Researchers at the University of Cambridge are seeking participants aged 18-65 for paid studies.

The purpose of these studies is to investigate how people acquire new habits and how habits can sometimes become inflexible, leading to compulsions, which is a major component in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Study 1 Enhanced habit system and impaired goal-directed behaviour: an online study

The researchers have previously conducted a similar study, using other methods, in which they had very interesting results and also positive feedback from the participants. The aim of this study is to deepen their knowledge on this topic by testing the same psychological constructs but with additional psychological measures, which will help them to better understand the link between habits and compulsions in OCD.

This is an online study where you will be required to perform five brief computerised games. You will then be asked to complete a set of questionnaires so that performance in the computerised tests can be associated to physiological changes, emotional states and personality traits.

The results of the study will enable a better understanding of how a healthy brain reacts to specific tasks and may also help understand how this is affected in disease. The whole session takes about one hour and half. However, you can choose to do the study in two sessions. For your convenience and to provide you support throughout the whole session, a researcher can be present with you on the phone or on a video conference call to answer any questions you might have while performing the tasks or answering the questionnaires.

The complete session takes about 1.5 hour and you will be paid £8.72 per hour with an opportunity to win £5 more in a game you play. The payment will be in the form of Amazon vouchers.

Study 2 How habits become compulsions? Exploring habit perseveration in OCD

The purpose of this study is to investigate learning and impulsivity through brain activity, i.e. how these are reflected in your brain.

You will be required to come to the lab for two sessions, scheduled a month apart. During that month, you will be asked to practise a finger motor sequence at home, using an app on a mobile device.

During the lab sessions, you will be asked to perform some short-computerised tasks.  Your brain activity will be measured while performing the tasks to assess your brain’s response to the stimuli. This will be done through an EEG device (electroencephalography). It consists of electrodes that are positioned in your scalp (head). This device is considered non-invasive, safe, causing no discomfort or harm. You will NOT receive any shocks or feel any discomfort.

You will also be asked to complete a set of questionnaires so that your performance in the computerised tests can be associated to physiological changes, emotional states and personality traits.

You will also undertake 2 Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) scans, one in each visit. You will be provided with ear plugs to block the noise from the device and the entire procedure will be conducted by specialised and trained radiographers, at the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre (WBIC), Addenbrookes, Cambridge. A safety form prior to undertaking the scan will also be required, to ensure there will be no hazards with the magnetic field.

You will receive £8/h for the first testing session. If you are successful in the motor response training (i.e. if you complete the training successfully) you will receive another £5 per week of completed training and will be invited for the second testing session, where you will again be reimbursed at a rate of £8/h.

Please read the attached Information Sheets, Study Advert and Study Flyer for more information and how to register your interest.

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