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Centre for Speech, Language, and the Brain (CSLB)

Department of Psychology

Participating in experiments at the CSLB

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Would you like to help us with our research?

The research conducted at the Centre for Speech, Language and the Brain can only happen thanks to our panel of volunteers who generously give their time to take part in our language experiments.We are always looking for new volunteers to take part in our studies - perhaps you would like to join us? Not only would you be contributing to scientific research, but you would be compensated for your time and effort. The results of the experiments are helping us to understand how the brain comprehends and processes language, how damage to the brain may affect the language system, and how ageing affects language abilities.

To receive notifications about participating in studies in the entire Department of Psychology (not just our lab), you may wish to register a SONA account.

Criteria for participation

You are eligible to participate in our studies if you are:

  • between 18 and 90 years of age
  • right-handed
  • a native speaker of British English
  • not dyslexic
Please note: People who are currently taking drugs that affect mental activity, such as tranquillisers, sleeping pills, or anti-depressants cannot take part in our brain imaging studies. Likewise we cannot test those with a history of psychiatric illness, head injury or diseases affecting the brain.

Because some of our research looks at how damage to the brain affects language systems, we would be very interested in hearing from you if you had a stroke at least six months ago.

What will I have to do?

The experiments we run are simple language tasks, such as repeating or reading aloud words or sentences, listening to sentences and pointing to pictures, saying whether a word is really a word, or naming pictures. We conduct these experiments in a number of different ways:

Some information about the brain imaging techniques we use is available here. These are all safe, non-invasive methods of allowing us to see which parts of the brain are involved in different types of mental activity. We do not do any research which involves drugs/medication.

How long will it take?

If you are interested in taking part we will ask you to provide us with some information about yourself to determine whether you are suitable for the sort of research that we do. We may then invite you into our offices for an initial session, completing simple language tasks, which takes between one and two hours. If you are suitable, we will add you to our panel of volunteers and contact you by telephone or e-mail whenever we are running an experiment where you match the criteria for taking part.The frequency with which we contact you will depend on your age, gender, the type of experiments you wish to participate in. There is no obligation for you to particiate in an experiment every time we contact you. It is entirely up to you how often you wish to participate. You are free to leave the panel at any time you wish.

Sessions usually last 1-3 hours depending on the tasks involved. The time involvement and the task will be clearly explained to you before the experiment begins. No special training is required for these tasks.

What are the benefits?

You will be reimbursed for your time at a rate of £6/hour for lab-based studies, and £10/hour for brain imaging studies. We contribute towards your travelling expenses at fixed rates of £3 if you live within the city boundary and £5 if you live outside.

How will my information be used?

If you are volunteering for a specific study, we will provide you with a Participant Information Sheet explaining what we're asking you to do and why. For more general information about how the University of Cambridge uses the personal data it collects for research studies, see here.


If you want to help us with our research or just want to find out more information, you can do any of the following: