Call for volunteers to help with academic study

Posted on Wednesday 5th February, 2014

Dr Gilles Vannuscorps, a neuroscientist who works at the universities of Trento and Harvard, is looking for people with a limb difference to help with his studies:

PROJECT: « COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE OF DYSPLASIA » (CNOD) Letter of information for the recruitment of volunteers

Call for volunteers to help with academic study

1.1.  Background and objective
This recruitment is part of a research program led by Dr.  Gilles Vannuscorps, cognitive neuroscientist at the Universities of Trento (Italy) and Harvard (USA), which aims at advancing knowledge about the consequences of atypical motor development in the context of dysplasia on the mental and neural representations of the human body, objects, actions and numbers. 

We currently know a lot about the neural plasticity and the cognitive processes developed by deaf and blind people.  This research has had a major contribution to our knowledge about the role of the visual and auditory experience in the organization of the human brain.  They have also helped to better understand what happens in the brains of deaf and blind people when they realize different activities and about the strategies they use to overcome their disability in their daily life (for example, to develop a sense of direction).  We know, for example, that blind people recycle parts of their brain normally dedicated to processing visual information to achieve other cognitive processes and that they develop outstanding capacities in processing auditory information or in memory.  This research has generated a lot of outcomes such as the improvement of tips for teachers or parents or even the development of eye prostheses or cochlear implants. 

In contrast, little or no studies have investigated the consequence of atypical motor development in the context of dysplasia (e.g., lack of the possibility to use fingers to learn to count or calculate, the use of tools with the lower limbs etc...) on the mental and neural representation of action concepts, objects and numbers.  Similarly, little or no studies have examined the specific strategies used by some dysplasic people in their daily life together with their cognitive and neural consequences.  Yet the question of the role of motor experience in human cognition is currently the focus of particularly intense theoretical debates.  In addition, such researches seem necessary to better understand and ultimately to better advise and assist dysplasic people (e.g., what is the best alternative to the use of the fingers to learn to count? What is the consequence of the use of different types of prostheses on the development of the hand motor area in the primary motor cortex? Is there a recruitment of "unused" motor brain areas for the processing of other types of information and what is the consequence of this putative recruitment? Etc.). 

This research aims at filling these gaps and at developing scientific knowledge in all these directions.  For this purpose, we hope to develop as fast as possible a database of people whose dysplasia affects the integrity of the upper and / or lower limb(s) and potentially willing to help us in achieving our research. 

1.2.  Main procedure
Once the database joined, you will be contacted for any study which inclusion criteria match your profile.  At that time, all information about the study, its purpose, duration and terms will be notified so that you can choose to participate or not, knowingly.  Some research, in fact, are very short (30 min ) while others are longer.  Some may be performed at the participant's home while others must absolutely be done at the University of Trento Note that any travel of the participants are fully covered (travel, accommodation , food) . 

If you agree to participate in a study, you will be contacted again by the experimenter in order to plan the appointments for the realization of the experiment.  The times and locations of meetings will be defined together. 

1.3.Protection et défraiement It is important to note that:
- this research respects the procedures for the protection of participants from the Universities of Trento and Harvard, which include (1) insurance covering all participation to evaluation sessions and (2) a full protection of privacy by the implementation of a coding of the data collected and the insurance of the secret. 
- your participation will be defrayed up to 10 euros / hour. 
- you will be able to terminate your participation in the research at any time without justification. 

1.4.  How to register?
If you want to join our database of volunteers, please fill out our questionnaire

If you simply want to learn more or to ask me questions, you can contact me at the following address: gilles.vannuscorps@unitn.it, or contact me via Skype: gilles.vannuscorps

Thank you for your cooperation

Gilles Vannuscorps, PhD

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