Rusted Lab's blog posts tagged with 'sussex'

Bright Sparks Weekend 2015



On February 14th and 15th, the Ageing and Dementia Group took their knowledge and favourite experimental tasks to Hove Park Upper School for the Bright Sparks Weekend. The Bright Sparks weekend included a variety of University groups and societies from around the South East of the country, and we were excited to be a part of this exciting event.

The Brighton Science Festival has been growing in popularity across the last few years, and we feel this weekend really demonstrated what a huge success this event has become. The weekend was busy, full of enthusiastic children and even more enthusiastic parents, and a constant flow of visitors kept the presenters at the event constantly on their feet.

Our Stall, the Genes, Eyes and Brains stand, centred upon two interactive tasks.

Sam Hutton demonstrated the latest eye-tracking technology in a display of the direct relationship between cognitive effort and pupil size. Volunteers were able to watch their pupil size change in real-time in response to an attention task of varying difficulty, providing neat, memorable evidence for how our cognition directly relates to our physiological responses.

Visitors to the event also had the opportunity to participate in a classic measure of sustained attention, the rapid visual processing task. Children were asked to battle it out with their parents for a place at the top of the leaderboard. The research group was hoping performance on this task across the different age groups would provide a neat demonstration of attention declining with increasing age. However, across the weekend we saw the parents massively triumph over the youngsters, contrary to expectations. We suspect this may be due to an overload of sherbet and an exciting, noisy environment on the kids’ part.

The selection of crafty activities available on the stall was also a hit, with many children to be spotted around the event sporting homemade brain caps. Hopefully some knowledge was also taken away from the event, with the children being encouraged to understand the principles of genetic inheritance through simple origami, posters and quiz sheets. More importantly, hopefully an enthusiasm for science was generated by the event, and both children and parents will be encouraged to think of scientific research as something important and exciting.

Finally, we would like to thank everybody for the wonderful feedback we received. The weekend had a great atmosphere and the group looks forward to getting involved with similar activities in the future.

 Please see our new lab blog for pictures of the event:


HCV Treatment in HIV HCV co infection population



Research in the Rusted Lab includes a study of the potential adverse side effects of hepatitis C treatment in HIV-positive individuals with a concurrent Hepatitis C infection – this is a condition that affects 40% of HIV patients. In these patients, the treatment of the Hepatitis C infection has been associated with depressive symptoms and cognitive impairments both of which negatively impact the quality of life of the patients.

The current standard of care for hepatitis C involves a combination of drugs (interferon and ribavirin) however; the treatment options have changed with the development of new therapies using interferon, ribavirin plus a new drug that have improved HCV cure rates. It is well known that depression is the most prevalent side effect of interferon and ribavirin treatment but little is known about the adverse events in the new treatment.

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Renata Fialho a second year PhD student and member of the Rusted Lab is looking at the adverse effects during hepatitis C treatment with classic and new treatment in HIV/HCV patients. According with preliminary results fifty participants were included in the study. We looked at differences on depression between hepatitis C treatments and there was a significant increase in depression in both types of treatments. These results suggest that the prevalence of depression is high still and more research is needed in order to clarify what type of depression and cognitive symptoms are associated with hepatitis C treatment.

For more information on the research being ran by the lab group, see our website

For the official lab blog, click here 

International collaboration- members of the Rusted Lab group make friends with Sao Paulo



International collaboration- members of the Rusted Lab group make friends with Sao Paulo

Two members of the Rusted lab group, Simon Evans and Claire Lancaster, visited Brazil for a week this April. Sounds like a holiday, but this trip was part of a specially formed scheme to encourage international research collaborations, funded by Santander Mobility Grants scheme.

The trip centred around a visit to Sao Paulo, hosted by Sabine Pompeia, an associate Professor of Psychobiology at the Federal University of Sao Paulo. We were welcomed by her lab group on the Monday and the first thing that struck us was their enthusiasm for research. Many excellent talks were delivered during our visit, but the work of three researchers stood out in terms of the exciting opportunities present for future international collaboration.


Fifteen years previously, Sabine had spent time working in the Rusted lab in Sussex. Her current research is concerned with developing tasks that explore executive functioning – our capacity to multi-task. Although much of her research has applied this battery to specific populations, she has also been involved in large Brazilian epidemiological studies. As part of future joint work between the Rusted and Pompeia groups, we hope to explore the role of the APOE gene, a genetic risk factor for dementia, on executive function at different stages of development.

We were also introduced to Andre Negrao, a clinical academic from the Genetic and Molecular Cardiology lab. Andre is currently researching the genetic, biological and cognitive profile of the population of Baependi, a town of 18,000 in south-east Brazil. This town is of interest due to the mix of urban and rural people living there, and the diverse range of educational and SES backgrounds. In the future, we hope to work with Andre and his team combining our joint interests in genetic differences in brain structure and function , and cognition.

Future collaborations with Monica Yassuda are also in the pipeline. Monica is a practicing neuropsychiatrist and academic at the University of Sao Paulo, typically working with more elderly populations, especially those with MCI.

One of the most important things we took away from our time in Sao Paulo was the problem administering tasks cross-culturally. Measures well-established in one country may not necessarily be suitable for administration in others. For example, using the word ‘snow’ as a stimuli in a language-based task is not so simple as it sounds. In some countries snow is a very common word, in others it is rarely used. Brazil is a country with a diverse profile of socio-economic and educational backgrounds, and as such cognitive tests need to be designed to suit varying rates of literacy. A major focus within the lab group we visited was modifying cognitive tasks for use in Brazil, thinking of clever adaptations to make them free of reading and writing requirements and accessible for all. These are important considerations for us to bear in mind when designing future collaborations.

But the trip was a wonderful insight into the culture of another country and we would like to thank our wonderful host Sabine for taking us round the city, and her team for welcoming us to the University. We would also like to thank Santander for the opportunity their funds provided, and Dr Paul Roberts at the Doctoral School for supporting the application.

Sabine Pompeia’s homepage 

Rusted Lab website