I currently hold a joint postdoctoral position spending 80% of my time working at Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience in Dublin, and 20% in the Neural Control of Movement Lab at ETH in Zürich, Switzerland. I started my research career at Queen’s University Belfast, after graduating with a first-class honours degree in Psychology in 2010 and in the same year being named by ‘The Times’ newspaper in their list of top 100 Graduates as ‘UK graduate of the year’. I went straight from undergraduate studies into a PhD, where I used functional and structural MRI measures of brain connectivity to investigate the mechanisms that give rise to inter-limb transfer of learning; a process termed ‘Cross Education’ whereby training performed with one limb (eg. the left hand) transfers to benefit the untrained opposite limb (eg. the right hand). In January 2014 I moved to Switzerland and started as a postdoctoral researcher in the Neural Control of Movement Lab in the department of Health Sciences and Technology at ETH Zürich. There, I worked for three years on projects concerning fundamental mechanisms of sensorimotor control and inter-hemispheric communication, and also co-authored a paper regarding the role of slow brain waves during sleep, which is now published in Nature Communications. It was there that I also discovered my interest in Neurofeedback and Brain-Computer Interface, as methods for understanding the importance of brain rhythms for control of movement. I was recently awarded a postdoctoral fellowship by the Irish Research Council to pursue this line of work further at Trinity College Dublin, and will commence this position in November 2017.
My PhD thesis was an indepth investigation of the phenomenon of Cross Education (CE); the transfer of motor performance from a trained to an untrained limb. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), resting state fMRI, and diffusion weighted-MRI scanning, I introduced new evidence concerning the neural mechanisms of CE.
My focus has since expanded beyond motor control and motor learning, to the neural oscillations (brain rhythms) underlying movement, which has inspired a more general interest in how brain rhythms are a key factor underpinning higher level human functioning, such as cognition. My current and future work focuses upon inhibitory control (IC), as I became fascinated with how this brain process was so widely involved in an extensive range of cognitive functions and psychiatric conditions. Using a combination of methods including Brain-Computer Interface and MRI, I investigate the role of neural oscillations for inhibitory control, and ultimately aim to bridge the gap in knowledge concerning how brain rhythms, behaviour, and brain neurochemistry are related.