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Developing cost-effective and future-ready approaches to neurorehabilitation

20122024

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Personal profile

Particulars

I am a neuroscientist with a specific focus on using brain stimulation and Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) to modify aspects of neurophysiological function.

I graduated with a first class honours degree in Psychology from Queen’s University Belfast in 2010, followed by a PhD in Psychology with a focus on Motor Neuroscience in 2014 (also from Queen’s). Following this I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at ETH Zürich in Switzerland for three years, in the Department for Health Science and Technology. In 2017 I began working as a postdoctoral research fellow at Trinity College Dublin, and in 2019 received an Emerging Investigator Award from the Health Research Board of Ireland to establish the Translational Brain Health Lab at Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. In 2023 I joined the School of Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast as a Senior Lecturer.

I was named as Irish Researcher of the year by the Irish Research Council in 2021, and have won early career awards from the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) and Neuroscience Ireland in 2018 and 2019. In 2022 I won the Northern Ireland Firmus Energy award for ‘Inspirational Woman of the Year’ in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

Research Interests

By incorporating different types of neural signals into brain- controlled computer games, I train human participants to modify specific aspects of their neurophysiological function.

I use Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) and neurofeedback as scientific tools to experimentally isolate and manipulate neural processes to investigate the neurophysiological basis of human behaviours (eg. sleep, motor learning, motor imagery, inhibitory control).

I also perform research to advance the current state of the art in BCI methodology. This involves devising fresh new approaches to BCI, as well as optimising existing technologies to improve their clinical and scientific utility.

The novel BCIs that I use offer opportunities for designing personalised interventions to improve human performance or reduce dysfunction by tuning neural activity towards more functional patterns. One theme of my research involves promoting neural plasticity in the damaged motor system using neurofeedback of muscle responses to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in stroke patients and individuals with paralysis due to Functional Neurological Disorders (FND).

I am also interested in developing novel biomarkers to predict individual response to brain stimulation treatments (repetitive TMS and tDCS) for Depression and Anxiety.

Teaching

PSY7092 Psychology Conversion MSc- Applications of Psychology in the real world- 'Neuroscience in the real world'

PSY7102 - Health Psychology Msc - Psychological Adjustment to Physical illness - 'Stroke' & 'Dystonia'.

PSY2067 -  Psychological Methods

Current Research Student Supervision:

MSc Health Psychology thesis x 10

Doctorate in Clinical Psychology x 1 

Open to expressions of interest for PhD project supervision for September 2024 start.

 

Other

Neuroscience Ireland council member and communications officer - registered charity working to advance research and education in the neurosciences in Northern Ireland and the Republic, and to represent Irish neuroscience researchers nationally and internationally.

Federation of European Neuroscience Societies- Member

Founder and scientific consultant to BrainState (Brain Stimulation clinic, Northern Ireland)

 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Keywords

  • BF Psychology
  • QP Physiology
  • RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry

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