Research Highlights

RAndomised trial to imProve the quality of lIfe of people with Dementia (RAPID Trial)

The University of Melbourne Academic Unit for Psychiatry of Old Age (AUPOA) is looking for volunteers to join the RAPID trial, a two-week study testing a new approach to treating depressive symptoms in people with Alzheimer's Disease called 'cognitive bias modification' (CBM). CBM is an easy to use computer-based intervention that aims to break the viscous cycle of negative thoughts contributing to negative feelings. People who answer 'yes' to the following may be eligible to join the RAPID trial:

  • Have you been diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer's Disease?
  • Have you been diagnosed with depression?
  • Are you fluent in written and spoken English?

If you, or someone you know would be interested in participating, please contact Rhoda Lai via telephone: (03) 8387 2483 or email:

The MICRO Study

Are you interested in assessing your dementia risk?

The University of Melbourne Academic Unit for Psychiatry of Old age (AUPOA) is looking for volunteers aged 50 to 64 years who have access to the internet and are willing to have two MRI brain scans, to participate in our innovative new study of dementia risk. This study will use new, cutting-edge magnetic resonance imaging technology called ‘7T MRI’ to closely examine dementia risk factors in the brain.

If you or someone you know may be interested in participating or would like further information, please contact: Michelle Guneratne on (03) 8387 2693 or by email: For more information, please click here.

The Physical Activity Guidelines Project

The aim of this study is to develop physical activity guidelines for older adults with Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD) and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). The guidelines will be developed according to a pre-specified protocol of consultation, drafting, and feedback amongst collaborators, international advisors and consumer groups.

This project is funded by the Dementia Collaborative Research Centres (DCRC) and is led by Prof Nicola Lautenschlager at the Academic Unit for Psychiatry of Old Age (AUPOA), with Associate Investigators located at AUPOA (A/Prof Kathryn Ellis and Dr Terence Chong), Australian National University (Prof Kaarin Anstey and Dr Diane Hosking), Curtin University (Prof Keith Hill), University of Newcastle (Prof Dimity Pond), University of Western Australia (A/Prof Kay Cox), and National Ageing Research Institute (A/Prof Briony Dow).

For more information on this project, please contact Emily You:

DCRC Knowledge Transfer Project

Researchers from the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University collaborated to create two evidence briefs for the wider community. These evidence briefs identify risk factors for the development of cognitive impairment and dementia, provide more detailed information about ways in which we can make changes to our lifestyle to reduce these risks, and also include references to organisations and informative resources which may provide more useful and practical information. To view the evidence briefs, please click here.

The Stand Up & Go Study

Recent studies have shown that memory problems in older adults are associated with a number of potentially modifiable risk factors, such as low levels of physical activity.

The Stand Up & Go Study aims to investigate whether Investigate whether sedentary older adults can adhere successfully to a 12-week intervention combining a sitting time reduction program with a home-based physical activity program.

Recruitment for the Stand Up & Go study is now closed.

The Brain Breaks Study

The Brain Breaks Study is a randomised controlled trial, which will look at how exercise and breaking up sitting time could benefit cognitive function.

Participants undergo assessments of blood pressure, memory function and provide blood samples. The study will compare how these measures might be affected by sitting, exercise and breaks in sitting time. Each participant will perform 3 different conditions, in a random order, each lasting a total of 8 hours. These conditions are:

  • Uninterrupted sitting
  • Exercise (30min) followed by uninterrupted sitting
  • Exercise (30min) followed by interrupted sitting (3 min walk every half hour)

This NHMRC funded trial is led by Prof David Dunstan of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, with chief investigators located at the AUPOA (A/Prof Kathryn Ellis), University of Western Australia (Prof Daniel Green), Australian Catholic University (Prof Ester Cerin), along with colleages from Umea University in Sweden.

More information can be found at the Brain Breaks website, please click here.

The INDIGO Study

Recent studies have shown that memory problems in older adults are associated with a number of risk factors that can be changed such as low levels of physical activity. The INDIGO study is investigating whether inactive older adults with memory complaints will benefit from taking part in an exercise program. INDIGO is also looking to see if having contact with a peer mentor and setting individual goals helps to maintain this exercise program. Professor Nicola Lautenschlager from the University of Melbourne, is leading this project alongside researchers from the National Ageing Research Institute, the University of Western Australia , and Exeter University in the United Kingdom. Recruitment for the INDIGO study is now closed.

Using robots to improve the care of people with younger-onset dementia

Dr Samantha Loi, a senior lecturer and researcher with the AUPOA, has been working with the Neuropsychiatry Unit at the Royal Melbourne Hospital on ways in which technology can enhance the care and quality of life for people with psychiatric conditions and dementia. One of the more novel ways in which this is being studied is through the use of healthcare robotics. Heath care robots have been successfully integrated into residential care facilities, and have been specifically programmed for use with people with dementia. The robots have a range of features including: voice and emotion recognition and verbal and non-verbal communication. The robots also have the ability to move, dance, play music and games. This project will investigate how these health care robots can be utilized in people with younger-onset dementia. For more information on this project please contact Dr Samantha Loi:, or click here.

The use of technology to improve care and quality of life in people with psychiatric conditions and dementia

Dr Samantha Loi, a senior lecturer and researcher with the AUPOA, is currently working on a collaborative project trialing a computer program which tracks and monitors challenging behaviours in psychiatric conditions. This trial involves investigating how the use of touchscreen technology (iPads and Samsung tablets) can assist in improving the quality of life of people living in residential care facilities. For more information about this studyplease contact Dr Samantha Loi:

The Australian Imaging, Biomarker and Lifestyle Flagship Study of Ageing (The AIBL Study)

Australian Imaging, Biomarker & Lifestyle Flagship Study of Ageing logo

Launched on November 14 2006, the AIBL study is a prospective longitudinal study of ageing comprised of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and healthy volunteers. The study will help researchers develop and confirm a set of diagnostic markers biomarkers and psychometrics that can be used to objectively monitor disease progression and to develop hypotheses about diet and lifestyle factors that might delay the onset of this disease. Successful completion of this work will enable the design and conduct of extensive cohort studies that may lead to clinically proven preventative strategies for Alzheimer's disease.

For more information on the AIBL study, please click here.

Management of Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia: My Story, My Life Reminiscence Project

The My Story, My Life Reminiscence project have been funded by the Commonwealth of Australia through the Dementia Community Support grant. This project will be conducted at the secure dementia unit (AC1) at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Park Campus. This pilot project aims to improve carer knowledge and use of reminiscence approaches and increase carer knowledge about the past experiences, preferences and interests of patients (all of whom have dementia) admitted to AC1. The project will involve:

  1. The use of themed reminiscence boxes with patients admitted to AC1. Themes will include: men's and women's interests, gardening, cooking, music, pets and cultural interests.
  2. The development and use of reminiscence resources, for example photo albums, DVDs, which are individually tailored for each patient admitted to AC1. A facilitated weekly weekend open group will be used to engage families and patients in the development of these resources at no cost to them. Support will be provided to assist families and residential aged care facilities in continuing to utilise the individually tailored resources following discharge from AC1.
  3. Education and support on the use of reminiscence resources in the care of patients will be provided.

All patients admitted to the unit during the project period will be invited to participate in this project together with their families. The impact of this project on the patients, their family carers, the AC1 staff and the professional carers engaged following the person's discharge from hospital will be evaluated.

For more information on this project, please contact Allisa Westphal:

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