Clare Kelly

Associate Professor of Psychology

Clare Kelly and the IMMAlab focus on developing, validating, and applying frontier brain imaging approaches to map typical and atypical development of the brain's functional and structural architectures, so that we can understand where, when, and how development can go awry. Her research aims to understand how interindividual differences in brain structure and function produce interindividual differences in behaviour. Clare is particularly interested in higher order cognitive functions such as working memory and attentional control, as well as in motivational functions related to learning and reward processing. Clare's lab seeks to identify and characterise dysfunctional brain organisation and brain dysconnectivity in clinical populations such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), mood disorders, and substance use and addiction. Another core focus of Clare's work is to understand the impact of early life experience on brain function, behaviour, and long-term mental health outcomes.


I received my BA in Psychology from Trinity College Dublin in 2002. Shortly after graduating, I joined the lab of Hugh Garavan, PhD, and began to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to non-invasively assess human brain structure and function. My doctoral research used fMRI to examine cognitive control processes, individual differences, and practice effects in healthy adults, and in 2006 I graduated from Trinity College with a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience.

Upon completion of my PhD, I joined the research group of Drs. F. Xavier Castellanos and Michael P. Milham at the New York University Child Study Center, first as a Postdoctoral Fellow, then as an Associate Research Scientist, and ultimately as an Assistant Professor. Since that time, my research has focused on the development, validation, and application of frontier brain imaging approaches to ascertain the functional and structural architecture of the brain in healthy, developing, and disordered human populations.

In January of 2015, I returned to Trinity College to become an Ussher Assistant Professor of Functional Neuroimaging, working at Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN), with a joint appointment in the School of Psychology and Department of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine. Here at TCD, my lab continues to forge a research mission aimed at elucidating the neurodevelopmental bases of psychiatric disorders through the application and refinement of frontier functional and structural neuroimaging methods. My research vision is to trace the roots of mental health difficulties in the developing brain, so that we can identify at-risk individuals at the earliest possible point and intervene to divert their developmental trajectory away from illness towards health.

Key Publications

  • Kelly, A. C., Uddin, L. Q., Biswal, B. B., Castellanos, F. X., & Milham, M. P. (2008). Competition between functional brain networks mediates behavioral variability. Neuroimage, 39(1), 527-537. [PDF]

  • Kelly, A. C., & Garavan, H. (2005). Human functional neuroimaging of brain changes associated with practice. Cerebral cortex, 15(8), 1089-1102. [PDF]

  • Kelly, A. C., Di Martino, A., Uddin, L. Q., Shehzad, Z., Gee, D. G., Reiss, P. T., ... & Milham, M. P. (2009). Development of anterior cingulate functional connectivity from late childhood to early adulthood. Cerebral cortex, 19(3), 640-657. [PDF]

You can find more of Clare's publications here.

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