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New research study at the Clinical Ageing Research Unit, Newcastle University

New research study at the Clinical Ageing Research Unit, Newcastle University; “Investigating methods to measure brain activity during walking: A PET/MRI brain imaging study”

Problems with walking become more common as we grow older due to a loss of muscle strength and reduced balance. Similarly, people with conditions such as Parkinson’s disease may find completing everyday activities more difficult as they have problems with movement caused by changes within the brain. Problems with walking may lead to a greater risk of falling, which may lead to reduced independence, mobility and wellbeing.

In this project, we will investigate how the brain controls walking and balance in healthy older adults. This will enable us to develop novel interventions to improve walking and balance due to ageing and age-related conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

This study involves two visits to the Campus for Ageing and Vitality [CAV] at Newcastle University. We will use two methods to scan your brain; Positron Emission Tomography [PET] and Magnetic Resonance Imaging [MRI]. We will also ask you to complete some standing and walking. PET imaging allows us to identify the areas of the brain that are active following standing or walking tasks, which participants complete prior to brain scans. It does this by mapping the path and distribution of a special dye called a tracer inside the brain. The tracer dissolves in blood which is carried to the brain and the scanner forms images of the areas of the brain that have the highest proportion of the dye. MRI on the other hand uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to take high-resolution pictures of the brain. These images will also allow us to study more closely – in combination with data from the PET images – how different areas of the brain are connected, for example, by investigating how water travels around in the brain.

The results of this study will help researchers learn more about how the brain functions during walking and standing. Furthermore, this study will results in the development of novel brain imaging methods which might allow earlier and more effective interventions to be developed to alleviate problems with walking.

If you are interested in taking part in this study click here to register.

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