Monday 24 September 2018
Rhodri Cusack is the Thomas Mitchell Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in Trinity College Dublin, and a world-renowned expert in his field. Prof Geraldine Boylan, Director of the INFANT Centre noted that “The appointment of Prof Cusack as an INFANT PI is very exciting, it expands the impact INFANT will have, and will enable us to gain even more momentum as a world-leading research centre, improving health outcomes for babies around the world”.
The Vice President for Research and Innovation at UCC, Professor Anita Maguire welcomed the addition of this talented research leader to the INFANT Research Centre, noting that “Prof Cusack brings research expertise which is entirely complementary to the current expertise within INFANT, and as a result his addition will open exiting new research opportunities with potential to contribute to improved health outcomes”.
How does perinatal brain injury affect development?
Prof Cusack is the Thomas Mitchell Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and head of the Cusack Lab in the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. As a graduate of Cambridge and the University of Birmingham, he has worked in the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge and more recently was Associate Professor at the Brain and Mind Institute of the University of Western Ontario. His research has been funded by the IRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, BBSRC, EPSRC, CIHR, and NSERC. Rhodri has recently received a prestigious ERC Advanced Grant to explore neuroimaging and early infant brain development and has already started active research collaborations with INFANT in this area.
He and his team study the brain development of infants in their first year, a period in which many cognitive functions develop remarkably quickly. They also study how perinatal brain injury affects development and how some infants manage to be so resilient. Their research uses neuroimaging to predict the functional consequences of brain injury at an earlier age, as current behavioural and neurological tools are poor predictors of later impairments, which place stress on families and preclude earlier and more effective interventions. Prof Cusack’s team use a diverse set of neuroimaging methods. With magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) they study brain networks (using diffusion-weighted imaging, functional connectivity) and the developing responses to what an infant sees and hears (using functional MRI). They study infant behaviour and have pioneered ways to do large-scale testing online, and have developed many new tools that bring together computational models of cognition with new neuroimaging techniques, to answer the many fascinating and important questions concerning the origin of our minds. Prof. Cusack’s work and that of INFANT are well aligned strategically and this announcement highlights a formalising of current interactions.
We look forward to working with Rhodri, and warmly welcome him to the team.