The Primary aim of this project is to investigate the influence of white noise on auditory and language processing and examine how this influence is modulated by changes in dopamine. The objective is to quantify the influence of white noise and dopamine by measuring the accuracy of people’s responses for the word-learning tasks as well as using fMRI to measure changes in brain activity while people perform the tasks. Healthy Volunteers will be recruited to  listen to auditory white noise that is played through head phones and/or orally ingest small, safe doses of Levodopa, a dopamine precursor that can increase the availability of dopamine in the brain.

The team will assess how these white noise and dopamine manipulations affect performance on cognitive-linguistic tasks that involve learning new words while recording changes in their brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Brain measurements will be taken via magnetic resonance imaging. Participants will ingest Madopar 125, which consists of Levodopa and Benserazide. Levodopa is a dopamine precursor that is converted to dopamine in the brain by dopaminergic neurons. As most levodopa is decarboxylated to dopamine before it reaches the brain, and since dopamine cannot cross the blood–brain barrier, benserazide is necessary to inhibit the decarboxylation, and allow dopamine to build up solely in the brain instead.

The dose used here will be the same as has been employed in many previous psychopharmacological studies led by team member Prof David Copland and Dr Robert Adams. Typically, the dosage of Madopar in therapeutic applications involves 3 daily administrations (300mg/day), whereas the dose proposed for use in this study is much lower (maximum of 100mg/daily).