Current studies:

  • Meditation Study: In this 8-day study, we will examine whether and how daily meditation practice influences blood biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This study requires 2 in person lab visits.  If you are a healthy adult between 18-35 years old and willing to provide blood samples and devote 40 minutes daily for a week to the study, you may be eligible for this study. For more information, contact uscmeditationstudy@gmail.com or 213-257-5764.
  • Context Learning in the Aging Brain: This is a USC research study about how our brains learn values. To maintain our own health and financial welfare, it is crucial that we make appropriate economic decisions. However, some of us make more disadvantageous decisions in some environments. Your participation could help uncover which processes in the brain are involved in learning values and making decisions. This study involves completing some questionnaires and computerized tasks, and requires a single visit to USC campus. Please feel free to contact us at USC.choice@gmail.com to find out more about our study and how to participate in it.
  • The SAGE (Sex, Age, Gaba and Episodic memory) Study: The purpose of the SAGE study is to understand how certain hormones and neurotransmitters change with age, and the impact of these changes on cognition and the brain. If you are eligible to participate, we will schedule you to come to the University of Southern California (USC) campus for one study visit that will include:  Surveys, questionnaires and memory and thinking tests; Blood and saliva tests; A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) session.  After you complete this in-person session, you will additionally be emailed links to complete surveys, questionnaires and memory and thinking tests online. To qualify for the SAGE study, you must be 50-90 years old (inclusive), have a minimum of 8 years of formal education, be fluent in spoken and written English, be willing and eligible to complete an MRI scan and a blood draw, and live in the greater Los Angeles and be able to come to the USC campus for a study visit.  To determine if you are eligible for our study, we will schedule an initial phone consultation, which will take approximately 30 minutes. During this time, we can tell you more about the study, and answer any questions you may have. You will be compensated for your participation in the SAGE study. For more information, please contact us at: SAGESTUDY@USC.EDU
  • Age-related changes in risky decision-making when walking (RDW): We are investigating how people perceive the risks in their walking environments and use these perceptions to make decisions. Such decisions in everyday life can influence how often someone falls or comes close to falling. The study involves two separate visits to the lab where you will walk for 10-15 minutes at a time for a total of 60-70 minutes per session, with rest breaks. During walking, you will experience some trips while being secured to a harness. We will also perform some clinical assessments of walking and balance ability. If you are 65+ years old and are able to walk without assistive devices, you may be eligible for the study. Please contact us at locomotorcontrol@pt.usc.edu for further information, if interested.
  • Balance control during walking in people post-stroke (PSB): This study aims to understand how a stroke affects walking balance and why people post-stroke fall more frequently than those who have not had a stroke. We are looking for people who have had a stroke and healthy adults who have not had a stroke. The study requires a 3-4 hour visit to our lab, where you will complete some clinical tests and then walk on a treadmill for 5 minutes at a time (a total of 45 minutes of walking). You will experience trips that challenge your balance, but there will be a safety harness to prevent falling. You may be eligible to participate if you are an adult (especially 50+ years old) who can walk without assistive devices. Please contact us for more information at locomotorcontrol@pt.usc.edu.

Past studies:

  • Emotion & Attention Brain Imaging Study:  The purpose of the study is to better understand the role of the locus coeruleus in cognitive and emotional function in healthy aging and Alzheimer’s disease. The locus coeruleus is a small brainstem region that is involved in responses to stress and emotion and related to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Heart Rate Biofeedback Study:  This study is investigating whether heart rate biofeedback helps to improve functioning of cardiovascular control systems that help regulate emotions, improves well-being and reduces stress, anxiety, and depressed feelings.  For details and to sign up:  healthyminds.usc.edu/biofeedback
  • Muscle Exertion & Digits Study: The Emotion & Cognition Lab is looking for adults between the ages of 65 and 85 to participate in a study examining how muscle exertion affects cognitive function. Half of participants will repeatedly squeeze a therapy ball in each hand. All participants will then perform a task in which they hear digits and make responses about them. The study lasts 1.5 hours and involves several physiological measurements and computer-based tasks. If interested, please email uscemotionresearch@gmail.com for more information.
  • Emotion & Memory MRI Study:  The Emotion & Cognition Lab is looking for adults 60 years and older to participate in a brain imaging study examining how emotional responses influence memory and brain function. The study involves a one-hour MRI brain scan and completion of some memory tasks. If interested, please email usc.mri.memory@gmail.com for more information.
  • Optimization Principles in Hemiparetic Gait:  The purpose of this study is to understand how people control walking and balance. We are looking for healthy older adults who are interested in joining the study. Participants will walk on a treadmill while using an interactive display that will help them modify their walking pattern. We will determine how these modifications influence oxygen consumption during walking and measures of balance. If interested, please contact the Locomotor Control Lab at locomotorcontrol@pt.usc.edu.
  • HeartBEAM (Heartrate and Breathing Effects on Attention and Memory) Study: We are studying how you can train your brain and heart to influence your memory, attention and overall brain health. We will investigate whether we can accelerate brain training by being in a more or less alert versus relaxed state during the training. Over 12 weeks, you will engage in a training geared toward boosting brain health from the comfort of your home and will only visit the lab 5 times. If you are an adult between the age of 50-70, have no cognitive impairment, are proficient in using a computer, have good heart health, are not regularly practicing meditation, and have no metals in your body, you may be eligible. Learn more about our study and sign up here: https://gero.usc.edu/healthyminds/uscheartbeam/
  • FitSitt Study: The purpose of this study is to develop components of an in-home active seating system, called FitSitt, and test it to see if it is feasible to use and acceptable to older people. We aim to produce a comfortable-to-use, sedentary activity solution for older adults and countless others who could benefit from introducing more movement into their daily lives. To participate in this study, we are looking for older adults (65+ years old) who are healthy enough to do light activity, and who live in the Los Angeles area. You will be compensated for your time. Find out more about the study at https://tinyurl.com/45hy8kb9. Contact us at HartLab@chan.usc.edu or call us at (949) 829-2669.

Our research groups are investigating what can be done to maintain healthy minds and bodies as we age, such as the studies listed on this page. Would you like to help?