Imperial College London

Dr Niall Bourke

Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Brain Sciences

Honorary Research Fellow



n.bourke Website




UK DRI CR&TSir Michael Uren HubWhite City Campus





I completed my undergraduate psychology degree in Dublin developing a strong interest in traumatic brain injury (TBI). After working as a rehabilitation assistant at Acquired Brain Injury Ireland I moved to London to complete an MSc in neuroimaging at King’s College London. I was involved in various projects including functional imaging with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and a neurodevelopmental project with Romanian adoptees. Following this, I got a position with Prof. Sharp as a research assistant on a clinical trial exploring disruption to the dopaminergic system following TBI. This work tied in with outpatient clinical practice provided excellent translational research experience leading to the development of my PhD topic investigating social cognitive impairments following TBI.

Since my PhD I have focused on paediatric brain development and clinical outcomes following a paediatric brain injury. I am now primarily based at King's College London working with a consortium including collaborators in South Africa, Malawi and numerous low and middle income countries in Africa and Southern Asia. This team is working in collaboration with Hyperfine, the pioneers of portable, point-of-care brain MRI to improve the acquisition, analysis and delineation of brain pathology.

Summary of PhD research:
Problems with interpersonal relationships and emotional processing (social cognition) are commonly affected after brain trauma. These issues often go unrecognised, particularly in the presence of apparently normal cognitive exams of memory and attention. This can have long-term impacts on rehabilitation, relationships with family and friends and often the ability to return to work. We have developed a computer-based system to repeatedly test cognitive function, including measures of social cognition. Targeting patients in the acute phase prior to discharge, we will aim to track cognitive performance over time. Combined with neuroimaging this will 1) provide a better understanding of TBI and 2) improve patient care as outpatients by intervening where necessary.

Research interests:
Cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology, neuroimaging, social cognition, sport psychology, paediatric traumatic brain injury and neurocognitive disorders. I am interested in the cognitive and affective difficulties experienced by individuals with neurological conditions. In addition, I am keen to better understand caregiver burden and translation of research into public health policy. 



Cawley P, Padormo F, Cromb D, et al., 2023, Development of neonatal-specific sequences for portable ultralow field magnetic resonance brain imaging: a prospective, single-centre, cohort study., Eclinicalmedicine, Vol:65

Graham NSN, Cole JH, Bourke NJ, et al., 2023, Distinct patterns of neurodegeneration after TBI and in Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimer's and Dementia, Vol:19, ISSN:1552-5260, Pages:3065-3077

Del Giovane M, Trender WR, Bălăeţ M, et al., 2023, Computerised cognitive assessment in patients with traumatic brain injury: an observational study of feasibility and sensitivity relative to established clinical scales, Eclinicalmedicine, Vol:59, ISSN:2589-5370

Bourke N, Trender W, Hampshire A, et al., 2023, Assessing prospective and retrospective metacognitive accuracy following traumatic brain injury remotely across cognitive domains, Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, Vol:33, ISSN:0960-2011, Pages:574-591

Ibitoye R, Mallas E-J, Bourke N, et al., 2023, The human vestibular cortex: functional anatomy of OP2, its connectivity and the effect of vestibular disease, Cerebral Cortex, Vol:33, ISSN:1047-3211, Pages:567-582

More Publications