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Psychopharmacology labs

Psychopharmacology labs 1 and 2 (UNS 40) and the Psychopharrmacology lab (OX55) are mainly used for research into the effects of medicines, drugs and nutritional manipulations. Their effects are usually measured in the Behavioural Research labs using computer-controlled cognitive tests. Some tests measure the effects on driving ability by means of driving tests on public roads using special test cars.
All psychopharmacological research participants must be examined in the medical examination room before and sometimes after the test. Their heart rate and blood pressure are measured and blood and urine samples taken. If the tests take place in the morning, evening or at night, participants can spend the night in the sleep lab to have their sleep patterns recorded.

Test day
Normally, participants must be present early on the test days. They are first given medicines or drugs, and wait in Psychopharmacology lab 1 until the administered substance has reached its expected maximum effect. The tests then carried out, usually in the Behavioural Research labs, investigate their responses and performance. These are later compared either with their performance after being administered a placebo, or with those of the control group.

Equipment and applications
Psychopharmacology lab 1 is equipped as a waiting room for people who need to wait for the substance to reach its maximum effect. It contains a TV, video and reading materials.
Psychopharmacology lab 2 is an office equipped with a computer for taking tests and filling out questionnaires, and a table on which tests can be carried out. The lab also has refrigerators for the nutrition research regularly conducted there.
The medical examination room is equipped with a desk, an examination table, a washbasin with work top, a spin dryer and a freezer. It also houses equipment and materials for measuring height, weight, heart rate, blood pressure and vision, and taking and storing blood and urine samples.

Use of other labs in combination with the Psychopharmacology labs
The Psychopharmacology labs are sometimes used together with the Behavioural Research labs for test leader/participant settings. After participants have been administered medicines or drugs, their attention, memory and psychomotor control is measured. There are also two test cars for examining their driving ability.

Test cars
The test cars are equipped with cameras that record the white line on the road while the participant drives (naturally, with a driving instructor on dual controls to ensure safety). This data can be used to calculate how much the participant zigzags while driving. Researchers also examine differences in participants’ driving abilities after they have been administered a certain substance compared with having received no substance or a placebo.
The most common driving test is the one-hour highway test, and examines the automatic aspects of people’s driving behaviour. The participant’s objective is to meander as little as possible while driving. A well-known cause of car accidents is drivers falling asleep behind the wheel as a result of fatigue or going off the road. Research into swerving – a forerunner of going off the road – attempts to gain more insight into this.
Another test is the ‘car-following test’, where the participant follows a leading car. The participant must keep a fixed distance between their car and the leading vehicle, also when the latter accelerates or decelerates. This test studies the more controlled information processing while driving to gain insight into a common accident type: the rear-end collision that results from inattention in traffic jams.

Sleep labs
The sleep labs consist of two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and a central room with kitchen units and freezers (for saliva, blood and urine processing and storage). The bedrooms are used to measure sleep by way of portable systems (Vitaports) that record participants’ EEG, EOG and ECG. One bedroom also contains a type of range hood, underneath which test participants can smoke during cannabis tests.
The sleep labs are used for research into insomnia and to compare the driving performance of healthy people aged 55+ to people of the same age who claim to sleep badly; naturally, the use of any sleep medication is taken into account. This research looks particularly at reaction ability, sleep quality and driving performance.
Last modified: Fri, 07/07/2017 - 16:43

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