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Lorina Naci

Associate Professor of Psychology

Lorina is an Associate Professor of Psychology and leads the 'Consciousness and Cognition' Group at the School of Psychology, Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience and Global Brain Health Institute, Trinity College Dublin.

A major focus of Lorina's group is the investigation of the functional brain organisation that supports human cognition and consciousness, and how this organisation breaks down in the disordered brain. Lorina's work combines psychological theory, neuroimaging, and research of brain-injured and anesthesized patients, and translates this knowledge to develop clinically applicable neuroimaging measures. Additionally, she explores the medico-ethical and societal implications of such applications, to build ethical guidelines for their clinical use.

 

A second focus of Lorina's work is the investigation of early biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease by combining neuroimaging, clinical, neuropsychological and physiological assessments. In the face of a global dementia pandemic, it is extremely important to understand the earliest cognitive/functional changes, and their underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms. This can lead to earlier diagnoses, potential targets for treatment, and better understanding of the disease itself. We carry out this work in collaboration with colleagues from Edinburgh, Cambridge and Oxford Universities (UK), within the PREVENT consortium.

Background

Lorina received her PhD from the University of Cambridge as an International Cooke Fellow. In 2017, she received the L'Oréal - UNESCO International Rising Talent Award. Her work focuses on developing novel biomarkers of healthy and disordered cognition in brain-injured and ageing populations, including individuals with early Alzheimer's dementia. Her work has made ground-breaking contributions to the understanding of cognition and consciousness for individuals with severely limited motoric output, such as severely brain-injured, anaesthetised or advanced Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. For example, she has used neuroimaging to understand how consciousness emerges from the healthy brain and to detect conscious awareness in some severely brain-injured patients, who are clinically diagnosed to be in a vegetative state. Her recent work has enabled some of these individuals to communicate their thoughts to the outside world. Concurrently, she explores the medico-ethical and societal implications of these applications. Her research has been published in high-impact scientific journals and covered widely in the international media. She holds a L'Oréal for Women in Science Research Excellence Fellowship, and in 2017 received the L'Oréal Foundation France and UNESCO International Rising Talent Award. Lorina serves as a member of the Governing Board of the Global Brain Health Institute, at Trinity College Dublin and University of California San Francisco, USA. She is funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Irish Research Council, and Enterprise Ireland. Her work has been published in high-impact scientific journals and covered widely in the international media, including the CBC, BBC, Science, Nature, the New Scientist and the Times.

Key Publications

  • Huntley J, Fleming SM, Mograbi DC, Bor D, Naci L, Owen AM, Howard R. (2021) Understanding Alzheimer’s disease as a disorder of consciousness. Translational Research and Clinical Interventions. Alzheimer’s Dement. 2021;7:e12203. [Download]

  • Mackenzie G, Naci L*. (2021) Well-Being After Severe Brain Injury: What Counts as Good Recovery? Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 31(2), October 2021. [View]

  • Luppi AI, Craig MM, Pappas I, Finoia P, Williams GB, Allanson J, Pickard JD, Owen AM, Naci L, Menon DK, Stamatakis EA. Consciousness-specific dynamic interactions of brain integration and functional diversity. Nature Communications 10, Article number: 4616 (2019). [Download]

  • Naci L*, Haugg A., MacDonald A., Anello M., Houldin E., Naqshbandi S., Gonzalez-Lara LE., Arango M., Harle C., Cusack R., Owen AM. (2018) Functional diversity of brain networks supports consciousness and verbal intelligence. Scientific Reports 8, Article No. 13259 [Read]

  • Graham, M., Doherty C. P., Naci, L.* (2018) Using neuroimaging to detect covert awareness and determine prognosis of comatose patients: informing surrogate decision-makers of individual patient results. Seminars in Neurology. 38(5):555-560. [Download]

  • Hu H, Cusack R, Naci L*. (2022) Typical and disrupted brain circuitry for conscious awareness in full-term and preterm infants. Brain Communications. In press. [Online first]

For more of Lorina's publications visit her Trinity Research and Google Scholar profiles.

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