Changes in the brain after 50

10 April 2014

Sandhya Fernandez

Age and Social Perception: Sandhya Fernandez is studying changes in the adult brain.

If you’re 50 years old or more and have noticed your brain isn't functioning as well as it used to, then Sandhya Fernandez wants to hear from you.

Sandhya is a registered clinical psychologist who is working for the Waikato District Health Board and studying for her PhD at the University of Waikato.

In what’s thought to be the first study of its kind in New Zealand, Sandhya is trying to explore the relationship between changes in cognition across older ages and its relationship with social perception.

Investigating Social Perception

Social perception is the ability to accurately understand communication such as facial expressions, emotions and sarcasm. “Social perception changes across the life span, particularly during childhood and adolescence. Currently there is little information about how social perception changes during adulthood, especially in older age groups,” says Sandhya.

“So I want to hear from people who may have noticed any change in their memory, thinking, problem solving abilities. They need to be 50 or older, relatively healthy and with no mental health issues or neurological conditions.”

Volunteers Needed

Sandhya has a series of “fun” tests she wants to run with people who volunteer to be part of the study. The research will involve two to three sessions on different days within a month. The entire assessment takes around three hours to complete and the participant gets a $5 Momento café voucher for every session.

“I get people to take part in a number of puzzle or game-type tasks, which most people find enjoyable and stimulating,” she says. “All results will be completely confidential.”

If you are interested in taking part in Sandhya’s doctoral research, she can be contacted at [email protected] for more information.

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