Assessments and tests
Studies or trials in dementia may use a range of different assessments or tests as part of their research. Great Minds members can choose which tests they are willing to take or which they would like to decline. The Alzheimer's Research UK diagram, shows the wide range of assessments a researcher might use when investigating a new area. Below we describe the main research techniques that our volunteers may choose from when the set their preferences.
Magnetic resonance imaging
The MRI scanner is a doughnut-shaped tube that uses big magnets to take pictures. You will be asked to lie still during the scan and only your upper body will be inside the tube. No radiation is involved but you can expect some loud noises from the magnets.
During a lumbar puncture, a needle is inserted into your lower back to extract cerebrospinal fluid. You will be given a local anaesthetic before, so you may only feel some pressure during the procedure. Side effects might include a headache or lower back pain.
Positron-emission tomography (small amount of radiation)
A PET scanner looks similar to a MRI scanner. During a PET scan a radiotracer, which is normally injected into a vein in your arm, is used to show how specific parts of your brain are working. The amount of radiation you are exposed to is small; it is about the same as you get from natural sources (like the sun) over a few years. The exact amount depends on the study, individual and the radiotracer.
Questionnaires and tasks can be used to assess your cognitive skills, such as memory and thinking. You may be asked to perform these tasks on your own or with a researcher. They may be carried out on an electronic device, such as computer, tablet or phone, or they can be pen-and-paper-based.
Connected devices (smartphone, wearable-device based testing)
These tasks are aimed at collecting information about you on a regular basis outside a lab. This may include performing short memory and thinking tasks on your phone or wearing a smartwatch to track changes in your movement.