Virtual Navigation Skills in Fragile X: Exploring Cognitive Differences

Now looking for participants!

Why are we doing this study?

Fragile X Syndrome is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability and Autism. The genetic changes in Fragile X lead to brain and behaviour differences. We are now trying to better understand these differences and what they mean for people in their daily life. More precisely, we want to focus on how these genetic changes shape people’s ability to navigate in space. To do so, neuroscientists at the University of Edinburgh tested how the genetic differences shaped the brain and behaviour of a mouse model of Fragile X, using a new Virtual Reality task. We are now ready to move forward, and research these brain and behaviour differences in people.


What is the goal of this study?

With this study, we are going to adapt the new Virtual Reality task to use it with people with and without Fragile X. Our goal is to create a task that is both safe and scientifically reliable to research people’s ability to navigate in space. 


Who can take part in the study?

We are looking for people aged 16 to 55 who have Fragile X Syndrome (full mutation), and people who don’t have any neurodevelopmental or genetic conditions.


What does taking part involve?

Participants will have to fill up a series of standardised questionnaires, autistic traits and social understanding. They will also complete a few standardised tests about general intelligence, memory, and attention, as well as a test using the new Virtual Reality task. Participants will also have an fMRI brain scan to measure their brain activity. All the tests will take place at the University of Edinburgh. The appointments to do the Virtual Reality task will take place at the Kennedy Tower or in George Square, and the brain scan will take place at the Clinical Research Imaging Centre (on the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh campus). Participants won’t have to complete all the tests and questionnaires. They will be able to complete as many as they can, based on their abilities.

What is happening at the moment?

We are recruiting and testing people aged 16 to 55 who have Fragile X Syndrome (full mutation), and people who don’t have any neurodevelopmental or genetic conditions, as a comparison group.


Are you interested in taking part?

If you are interested in taking part, or if you have questions about the study, contact Emma Mather-Pike, the PhD student in charge of the study, at or 07970298100.


Who is running the study?

The study is conducted by PhD student Emma Mather-Pike and her supervisors Andrew Stanfield and Matthew Nolan. The study is funded by the Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain.