Archive by Author

UCD Stroke Management Study Day

14 Jan


UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science will be hosting a study day on the 1st of February from 9:30-3PM covering current issues and management of stroke in Ireland. This meeting is targeted towards healthcare professionals, clinicians and students involved in healthcare study or research and topics are therefore wide-ranging and diverse, encompassing basic overviews all the way up to specific study types that can be done in stroke research.

Speakers include Prof. Harbison from St. James’s Hospital, Prof. Sean Murphy from The Mater Hospital & RCSI and Prof. David Williams from Beaumont Hospital and attendees will get an insight into stroke diagnosis, treatment and management from an Irish perspective, something which is relatively lacking in the literature. Indeed, current stroke statistics for Ireland are quite hard to find so I believe this study day will be very beneficial from a basic and a more specific point of view.

Registration is open now and the cost is extremely reasonable (€50 standard, €20 for full-time students). If you are interested in attending please follow the link below for the full programme and to register for what looks like an interesting and educational day.

Happy New Year

7 Jan

2013 was a jam-packed year here in the Maynooth NeuroLab. We got involved in the European Month of the Brain in May; giving presentations in secondary school educating teenagers about the brain and holding an evening of public talks in NUI Maynooth which was very well attended. Members of the NeuroLab attended various conferences (CNS, Neuroscience Ireland) to present posters and give data blitzes of their research and we have had several publications by lab members; Micah Amd (JEAB), and Caroline Rawdon (BMC Psychiatry). Liz Walshe, Francesca Farina, Daniel Barry and Kate Forte attended a 2 day workshop on neuroimaging techniques and analysis of imaging data in Bangor University in Wales run by the NeuroSKILL project. Francesca Farina was also presented with the Whittaker Award; an award given for excellence in presentation by the NUIM Biology Society.

2013 saw a big shift in the lab membership; with the arrival of two new members and a large number of thesis submissions and vivas. Michael Cleary-Gaffney (my blog admin compatriot) and Jacinta Finn started their Masters programmes orking with Andrew Coogan. Caroline Rawdon and Emma O’Callahan passed their viva’s with flying colours and Noleen Brady and Daniel Barry have submitted and are awaiting viva dates (very proud indeed).

2013 was a busy year and 2014 is full of prospects; conferences, vivas, collaborative projects. We’ll be keeping the blogosphere updated with the goings-on of the Maynooth NeuroLab reporting on achievements and bringing you the usual interesting research and strange facts.

Happy New Year!

Dr. Brainley’s Christmas Greeting

20 Dec

On this final day of work in the NUIM Psychology Department we thought it appropriate to introduce our new moderators and ring in the Christmas with a message from the recently graduated Dr. Brainley.


Firstly, I want to extend heartfelt thanks and congratulations to Francesca Farina and Liz Walshe for their trojan work in moderating this blog up to this point; they provided us with interesting research, spread the news about lab publications, ran competitions and delivered it all with a healthy dose of humour! I thoroughly enjoyed working with them (especially coffee breaks).

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the new moderators; Kate Forte and Micheal Cleary-Gaffney who are nervously awaiting to see how they blogosphere will respond to the changes. I will have them adequately trained soon.

There has been a lot of Christmas goings-on in the lab this year; tinsel, fairy lights and Christmas jumpers abound. I wish to thank Dr. Yvonne Barnes-Holmes, our new Head of Department for helping to organise an excellent Christmas party and everyone who contributed to the vast table of food (which we are still working through). The week has not been without mystery however; we left the office for a coffee break to find that the Christmas tree was gone! We were about to don the detective cap and scarf when we noticed it was shuffling it’s way (still fully decorated) down the corridor above! Poltergeist? Arborial sentience? No. It was borrowed for a Christmas party and dutifully returned several hours later. Strange but true.

2013-12-19 13.28.39In closing, I hope all of you have a wonderful time this Christmas, full of fun, family, friends and food. Personally, I will be keeping watch over the lab over the holiday period, chatting with Santa and trying to keep the young one out of the Christmas tree! Merry Christmas to one and all.

2013-12-19 13.31.402013-12-20 12.51.52

NeuroSKILL Workshop in Bangor

9 Jul

2013-07-06 13.37.54This weekend saw four of us from the lab sail away to Bangor to take part in the NeuroSKILL workshop series. NeuroSKILL is a collaborative effort between Bangor University in Wales, Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin to promote and develop training programmes in the use of neuroimaging in dementia and technology and knowledge transfer between Ireland and Britain in this area.

The course itself was two days. The Friday consisted of a series of lectures on different topics related to dementia and neuroimaging; in isolation and related. Topics included the current research in dementia, neuroimaging and neurochemistry in dementia and an overview of imaging techniques. The Saturday was made up of practical sessions where we got to see the processes involved in MRI and data handling.


Initially we learned the processes involved in preparing and running an MRI scan with DTI, which I will go into more detail about later. Paul Mullins, the coordinator, ran an MRI of a volunteer as we observed and talked us through the safety procedures, contraindications and dangers of MR use. Following this we took part in three workshops about the handling of imaging data; hippocamal volumetry, Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) and Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS). Hippocampal Volumetry, or indeed any volumetry, involves calculating the volume of white and grey matter and CSF and use this and your value for the hippocampus to calculate the hippocampal volume as a percentage of the total Intracranial Volume. Because brains vary in size and the amount of degradation in dementia such as Alzheimer’s you can’t just have a standard figure for this. DTI involves mapping white matter tracts in the brain and examining the directionality of water movement in the brain. I would like to use this at some stage in my research because I think it could provide an interesting insight into unilateral spatial neglect. MRS is a tool to examine the level of different neurochemicals in the brain. I’m not too up on chemistry if I’m honest but the co-ordinator explained it very well and it was very interesting to see the different levels of different neurotranmitters laid out in a clear way on the screen. The whole day was really fascinating and definitely made me thing how I could apply neuroimaging techniques, aside from EEG, to my own research. It was great to get some hands-on experience with handling imaging data and how to manipulate same using different methods, rather than just the theoretical experience you typically get.

2013-07-06 14.46.08    20130706_121400    2013-07-06 14.55.46    20130706_153743

It was a fantastic weekend and I’d highly recommend NeuroSkill events to everyone involved in this sort of research.

2013-07-06 16.32.02    (We also spent a lot of time lying in the sun)

Wireless Brain Computer Interface

21 Mar

Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) might seem like the stuff of science fiction, but with ever-improving technology and methods they are fast becoming a reality. BCIs have been used to control robot limbs in patients who have had amputations, allowing the patients to move and manipulate them using thought. However, these all rely on wires, connections between the implanted electrodes and the computer processor which are an infection risk and let’s face it – a bit of a hazard since they’re wired directly into a person’s brain, so you definitely don’t want the cat pulling on them!

But, this could all be about to change thanks to recent research from Brown University. Researchers created a small sensor that can be fully implanted and is capable of turning the brain’s electrical activity into digital signals which can then be amplified and read by a computer via a wireless receiver. As you can see from the picture the device is quite small and compact.


As of yet, researchers have only used the technology in animals but they were able to record real time data via a wireless broadband connection, something nearly all of us have in our own homes, for a period of 1 year with little degradation of signal from a distance of three feet. They believe it will be of use in expanding knowledge on muscle control and movement-related brain circuits as well as eventually being suitable for human implantation and the wireless control of sophisticated robotic prosthetics.

Read the full article here.