A new online service called ‘PsychPop‘ has been launched by the Institute of Psychiatry in London. It allows members of the public to volunteer to help in research that aims to combat brain injury, neurological disease and mental illness.
Often, one of the difficulties in conducting research is not recruiting people affected by medical conditions, but members of the public.
General public participants are essential allies in research, needed to determine which aspects of mind and brain functioning might be different when compared to people with a specific condition.
The service at the Institute of Psychiatry has been set up by neuropsychologist and wikipedian Paul Wicks, initially out of frustration when trying to recruit members of the public in his own research on motor neurone disease.
Taking part in research can also be a fascinating experience. If you don’t live in London, most universities will conduct research into the mind and brain so it’s worth getting in touch and asking how to volunteer.
Crucially, find out exactly what’s involved, make sure the study has ethical approval (it has been judged by an ethics committee to be safe and well conducted) and ask any questions you have before starting.
Other than that, enjoy the experience! You usually get your travel expenses reimbursed and can often get a copy of the results – including a picture of your brain if you take part in a neuroimaging study.
Cognitive scientists: If your department has an online sign-up form for participants, why not add a link in the comments page of this entry?
Link to PsychPop.