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Dr Juanita Todd

Associate Professor
School of Psychology
University of Newcastle,
Callaghan NSW 2308
AUSTRALIA
Phone: (02) 4921 5977
Email: Juanita.Todd@newcastle.edu.au

Information Statement for the Research Project:


Does that matter? How the brain decides what period of time is relevant.
You are invited to participate in the research project identified above which is being conducted by Dr Juanita
Todd and Dr Alexander Provost from the School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle. There are two
PhD students (Jade Frost & Kaitlin Fitzgerald) involved in this research and two honours students
(Raymond Cornwell and Katherine Haasnoot). All are completing their degrees at the University of
Newcastle under the supervision of Dr Juanita Todd. Your appointment will be conducted by one of these
students depending on which version of the sound sequences you will hear and what task you will be asked
to perform (see below). Data generated from your appointment will be used by one or more of the students
in the completion of the research component of their degree.

Why is the research being done?


Important theories about how the brain works suggest that it maintains optimal function by learning to
ignore irrelevant events so that attention can be focused on important events that provide us with new
information. We are studying how this process operates in the auditory system, that is, in the parts of the
brain that process sound.

The brain automatically uses information about the likelihood of sounds in the environment to decide what is
important. When the brain encounters repetitive sounds it reduces the size of the response to these sounds
because it learns to predict them and learns that they do not carry important information. When the brain
then encounters a different sound it responds more strongly to these rare events and this larger response
includes a component called a mismatch negativity or MMN response. This process happens outside your
awareness, even during sleep. In this study we are going to ask you to watch a DVD movie or perform a
particular task and ignore the sounds that we present to you over headphones. Our sound sequences have
been designed to determine the time frame over which your brain is extracting probability information in
order to determine whether a sound is important or not. From this information we will also begin to
understand which areas of the brain are involved in this process.

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Who can participate in the research?
We require participants to complete this study who meet the following criteria:
(1) Aged 18-35 years.
(2) No treatment for mental illness or diagnosis of psychosis in a first degree relative.
(3) No known hearing loss.
(4) No history of injury to the brain or neurological condition (e.g., stroke, epilepsy).
(5) No excessive alcohol or drug use.

What choice do you have?


Participation in this research is entirely your choice. Only those people who give their informed consent will
be included in the project. Whether or not you decide to participate, your decision will not disadvantage you
in any way.

If you do decide to participate, you may withdraw from the project at any time without giving a reason and
you have the option of withdrawing any information that identifies you. If you do choose to withdraw you
have the option of withdrawing your data from the project also.

What would you be asked to do and how long will it take?


If you agree to participate, you will be asked to attend an appointment at the University of Newcastle. This
appointment will last about 2.0 hours and will involve:

A hearing test to ensure no significant hearing loss is present (5 minutes).


A set-up with cap for the recording of electrical brain potentials produced in response to sounds. An
elastic cap that contains small sensors will be placed on your head and a small amount of conductive
gel will be inserted into the sensors so that we can record the electrical activity in the brain that occurs
in response to the sound sequences (40 minutes set-up and 60 minutes recording).

During the recording you will be asked to ignore the sounds whilst you perform a task. That task might
involve a more passive task like viewing a self-selected DVD movie with subtitles or it might involve a more
active task like making decisions about visual stimuli presented on a computer screen.

You will be offered a reimbursement of $30 in Coles Corporate vouchers for your time and inconvenience. If
you are a student enrolled in PSYC1010, PSYC1020, PSYC2500 or PSYC3000 you can instead choose to
receive 4 course credit points for your participation.

What are the risks and benefits of participating?


We cannot promise you any direct benefit from participating in this research. However, as noted above,
increasing our knowledge of auditory system and higher-order brain area function enables us to develop
better tests to understand individual differences and how problems in brain function arise. It is possible that
during the hearing test we could identify some hearing loss that you are not currently aware of. If this
occurs, we will discuss the result with you and suggest that you contact your general practitioner for advice.

How will your privacy be protected?


Any information that is obtained in connection with this study and that can be identified with you will remain
confidential and will be disclosed only with your permission. There are two exceptions. If you reveal present
intentions to harm yourself or others, or if you reveal specific detail about any criminal activity as we are

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obliged to report this to relevant persons (e.g. case worker, GP or police). All files with identifying information
will be kept securely stored in a locked area of the University of Newcastle for a period of five years after
which all copies will be shredded. Any identifiable data kept electronically will be password protected. All
experimental data will be kept for a period of five years after which they will be incinerated or shredded as
appropriate.

How will the information collected be used?


The researchers intend to publish the results of this research in a scientific journal. However, in any
publication, information will be provided in such a way that you cannot be identified. Whilst you will have the
opportunity to discuss and view some of the measures taken during your appointment, the information
collected is generally only meaningful in terms of group comparisons. In the consent form you are invited to
request a description of the project outcome in lay terms which will be mailed to you once the study is
complete. We will also ask your consent to use the data obtained here for a comparison to measures
obtained in future studies conducted by the researchers. This is completely optional and you can participate
in this study without providing this permission.

What do you need to do to participate?


Please read this Information Statement and be sure you understand its contents before you consent to
participate. If there is anything you do not understand, or you have questions, contact the researcher.

If you would like to participate, please contact Katherine Haasnoot (details below) and arrange an
appointment time that suits you. When you attend you will be required to sign a consent form acknowledging
that you have received the information provided above, that all of your questions regarding participation
have been answered to your satisfaction.

Further information
If you would like further information please contact Dr Juanita Todd.
Thank you for considering this invitation.

Dr Juanita Todd

To participate contact:
Katherine Haasnoot
PH: 0249138099 or Katherine.haasnoot@uon.edu.au

Complaints about this research


This project has been approved by the Universitys Human Research Ethics Committee,

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Approval No. H-2012-0270

Should you have concerns about your rights as a participant in this research, or you have a complaint about
the manner in which the research is conducted, it may be given to the researcher, or, if an independent
person is preferred, to the Human Research Ethics Officer, Research Office, The Chancellery, The
University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan NSW 2308, Australia, telephone (02) 49216333, email
Human-Ethics@newcastle.edu.au
.

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