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Lorina Naci

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Lorina is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and lead 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. Professor Naci 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

  • Naci, L., & Owen, A. M. (2013). Making every word count for nonresponsive patients. JAMA neurology, 70(10), 1235-1241. [PDF]

  • Naci, L., Monti, M. M., Cruse, D., Kübler, A., Sorger, B., Goebel, R., ... & Owen, A. M. (2012). Brain–computer interfaces for communication with nonresponsive patients. Annals of neurology, 72(3), 312-323. [PDF]

  • Naci, L., Cusack, R., Jia, V. Z., & Owen, A. M. (2013). The brain's silent messenger: using selective attention to decode human thought for brain-based communication. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(22), 9385-9393. [PDF]

You can find more of Lorina's publications here.

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