Title of Research: Neural correlates of impaired social cognitive functioning following traumatic brain injury
Niall completed his undergraduate Psychology degree in Dublin developing a strong interest in traumatic brain injury (TBI). After working as rehabilitation assistant at Acquired Brain Injury Ireland he moved to London to complete an MSc in Neuroimaging at King’s College London. He was involved in various projects including functional imaging with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and a neurodevelopmental project with Romanian adoptees. Following this he 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 his PhD topic.
Summary of Research:
Problems with interpersonal relationships and emotional processing (social cognition) are commonly affected after a 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 of 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 better understanding of TBI and 2) improve patient care as outpatients by intervening where necessary.
Translational Medicine, Neuroimaging, Cognitive Neuroscience, TBI, Social Cognition, Health Economics, Motivation, Performance & Sports Psychology
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