Prof Demeyere & Richard Raynor talk at IF festival

On Sunday 20th October, Nele and Richard teamed up to talk to members of the general audience as part of the public engagement IF festival (Oxford Science and Ideas Festival).

Richard Raynor described how his world was turned upside down at the age of 31, when a severe stroke led to a loss of language. In this vibrant, colourful and coming-to-terms talk, Richard described the day of his stroke, his recovery, intensive rehabilitation, and his involvement in our neuropsychology research. Associate Professor of Psychology, Nele Demeyere, explained how cognitive neuropsychology studies of these often hidden consequences of brain injuries have provided essential windows into understanding how our brains work.

 

Richard’s positive outlook and message on living life is awe-inspiring, and led him to be awarded as Stroke Association Life after Stroke Award

 

Oxford Open Doors

Last weekend (14th and 15th September 2019) the Department of Experimental Psychology hosted an Open Doors events. The Open Doors event is “is an annual celebration of Oxford across all walks of life, its places and its people” and you can find more information on Oxford Open Doors. Having the department open for the public meant that over 450 people attended over the weekend and we received quite a large proportion of people who wanted to sign up as volunteers to take part in research. Sam Webb, Grace Chiu, and Michael Colwell were able to entertain 207 people on the first day by showcasing the OCS-plus, COMPASS, and other neuropsychological tests used in the lab. This involved demonstrating the tasks to the audience as well as talking individual groups through why we do what we do. It was great to get the public on board with our message about clinical tools development and so motivating to see the reactions and enthusiasm of people for our research. A great experience for our lab-members who got to practice explaining their research in an accessible way. A great experience all round!

FESN – Milan

The Translational Neuropsychology Group traveled to Milan this month to present several new research projects at the Federation of European Societies for Neuropsychology’s 2019 conference (FESN 2019). This conference featured researchers from around Europe presenting on many related topics in Cognitive and Clinical Neuropsychology. The conference itself was hosted by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart or Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. For our time in Milan we stayed in the cities heart and visited the Piazza del Duomo which was host to a famous study about representational neglect which is still talked about even though it was published over 40 years ago by Bisiach & Luzzatti. Considering research moves quickly and this study is still discussed we felt we had to go there and check it out. 

 

 

The program itself was packed with excellent symposia and speakers from across the globe, including our very own Margaret Moore who presented her work. Her talk focused on her theoretical research teasing apart whether having attentional/spatial issues with words is part of the same cognitive mechanism as attentional/spatial issues with visual space. Turns out whether we can definitively say they are one shared mechanism or different is contentious and stirred up a lot of discussion and lively talk, and led to new potential collaborations with other neglect researchers. So her talk certainly was a winner for us.

 

Sam Webb also presented a poster on our COMPASS project,  sharing one of the Translational Neuropsychology Group’s newest tools, the COMPASS, a brief neuropsychological screen to supplement and guide mental capacity assessment. The poster presentation gave Sam a unique opportunity to share this new tool with other groups and gain thoughtful feedback, some of which has now influenced the research pathway we intended, which was fantastic. Of course there were plenty of speakers who we had not collaborated with who were very interesting to listen to, and thought provoking symposia. For instance, there were many (at least 3) symposia/talks on spatial neglect, others on body movements and how they are represented in the brain, and plenty on memory loss, including discussion of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

 

 

All in all FESN 2019 was a fantastic conference in an inspiring venue, located in a city which has historical routes in neglect research (see photo of the Piazza del Duomo – famous for being the base for the first paper to investigate attentional issues towards our mental representation of a place/object), and has allowed us to bridge new international collaborations and fine tune our research.

 

Paper reporting on OCS-Care study now available

Our paper on the multi-site OCS-Care study is now available on AMRC open research, an open access and open review pre- and post-print service by F1000 Research. The study was one of the last large projects led by the late Prof Humphreys, to whom the grant by the Stroke Association was awarded. Prof Humphreys designed and led the majority of this project and unfortunately was unable to see its completion. Although it has taken us a while to curate all the data, we finally completed the data cleaning and analysis with visiting MSc student Shuo Sun and are now closing this study by publishing this overall report.

The study found a null result in the primary registered, outcome measure:  in a comparison of patients screened with MoCA or OCS, overall broad stroke outcomes after 6 months did not differ. Exploratory analyses highlight the varying trajectories post stroke in a large group of 467 stroke survivors for who data was collected acutely and 6 month post stroke with a proportion of patients demonstrating stable cognitive performance, most demonstrating recovery, and around a fifth of patients showing cognitive decline.

The paper reflects some of our core values, in collaborative and open research:

This study ran in 37 different hospital sites with the help of UKCRN, and with the excellent coordination by the Study Management Team of Dr Tracy Nevatte and Mrs Alison Buttery. The analysis and write up was a true collaborative effort in the lab, and we set time aside as a group to work on this, kick-starting the write up with the ‘paper in a day’ approach (thanks to Prof Jennifer Tackett for inspiration!), organised by our postdoctoral fellow Dr Kathleen Vancleef. 

The experience of submitting our first paper to AMRC Open Research was very positive. Clear instructions, clear ways of presenting data, all data openly available in a public repository for other groups to use and all code attached and available (all available under the project on Figshare). The paper even includes one of Shuo’s beautiful interactive Figures. AMRC Open also uses CRediT statements to make author contributions fully transparent. Finally, we look forward to the open and signed reviews, which will be a first for us too.

The lay summary of the paper can be found here.

Sam Webb appointed as Research Assistant on EEG collaboration

Sam Webb, who completed his MSc project in the lab is starting a new role as research assistant on a collaboration of our lab with Monash University’s Prof Mark Bellgrove‘s group (including Dr Méadhbh Brosnan) and University of Queensland’s Prof Jason Mattingley‘s lab.

This project uses recent advances in electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate a new test of visual attention difficulties in chronic stroke survivors. EEG is a technique which measures brain waves by recording from electrodes on the head. This new EEG-based test will distinguish between different processes in the brain that may be contributing to visual attention difficulties. These include how alert and attentive an individual is, how well they can select and process visual information, and how well they can signal motor movements.

Across 3 sites (Melbourne, Dublin and Oxford), we will recruit 100 stroke survivors (with and without attentional difficulties) and assess how they process and respond to visual information using EEG. We will explore how these EEG signals relate to standardised assessments currently used in clinical practice.

Kathleen Vancleef awarded Christ Church College funding

Kathleen Vancleef has been awarded a grant from the Christ Church Research Centre to develop and validate a visual perception screening app suitable for stroke patients at Acute Stroke Units. This translational project complements her Stroke Association Fellowship, and you can read more about the project here.

Nele Demeyere awarded Stroke Association Priority Programme

Together with co-applicants Prof Sarah Pendlebury, Dr Terry Quinn, Prof Helen Dawes, Dr Anna Kuppuswamy, Dr Shirley Thomas and Dr Mauro Mancuso, we successfully applied to the Stroke Association Priority Programme funding.

OX-CHRONIC specifically focusses on long term psychological consequences post stroke (at least 2 years post event).  We hope that the results of this study will help us to understand more about how stroke affects mood and thinking in the long-term, the impact that these effects have on people’s lives, and how these problems change over time.

Knowing more about these long-term effects of stroke will help stroke survivors and their families plan for the future. It will help to inform how services for people affected by stroke are delivered. It will also help scientists to develop effective treatments and coping strategies for these, too often overlooked, effects of stroke.

Read more here on the Stroke Association pages and our project page

Stroke Awareness Day Saturday 9 March 

On Saturday 9th March, together with the Stroke Association South Central branch, the Translational Neuropsychology Group are hosting a stroke awareness day.

The joint event brings together short lay talks and activity tables from researchers working within stroke, with a personal perspective of a strokesurvivor living with aphasia as well as representatives from community services and charities.

 

 

Everybody is most welcome and invited to attend this walk-in event at the North Oxford Community Centre in Summertown (10-2). Come and find out about research and support in stroke, and have a cup of tea and cake in support of the Stroke Association.

Margaret Moore wins Humphreys and Riddoch Prize

Margaret Moore has won the first British Neuropsychological Society (BNS) Humphreys and Riddoch Prize in recognition of outstanding work in neuropsychology by a postgraduate student. Margaret was congratulated on winning the early career prize by BNS President Professor Roz McCarthy at the BNS Autumn Meeting, where she presented her research on neglect dyslexia. Here she is with Prof Jane Riddoch.