Background: ASD and related neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. Fragile X Syndrome, Prader Willi Syndrome) are lifelong conditions associated with impaired social and adaptive functioning. People with ASD have difficulties engaging in social situations that can lead to isolation, withdrawal and worsening mental health. Additionally even where cognitive abilities are relatively unimpaired people with ASD many have low levels of adaptive ability and are therefore limited in their ability to achieve independent living. Unfortunately also this can be associated with worsening employment prospects, decreased engagement in society and as a consequence, further deterioration in adaptive functioning.
Technological supports for independent living are increasingly providing novel ways to manage disability and promote health and societal engagement. There is now a rich literature on research into normal and abnormal ageing demonstrating the impact of technology supporting healthcare assessment and delivery. However, the application of technologies to support individuals with ASD and other related neurodevelopmental disorders has yet to make such an impact. Here we are aiming to apply technology to better support the acquisition of health related data in people with ASD and to develop technology based interventions to support the development of both core skills, such as basic social cognition, and adaptive skills such as the ability to function in socially demanding situations.
The focus of this project is on the development of gaming based software that may be utilized both for the acquisition of EEG data to support both clinical and research investigation in neurodevelopmental disorders such as ASD and intellectual disability. There will be a further focus on the implementation of gaming scenarios for the development of skills addressing both core deficits and adaptive functioning. The emphasis will be on the development of scenarios with broad appeal and application such that they may be implemented in naturalistic environments with friends and family members promoting generalization of skills into real-life scenarios. The fellowship will focus on the development of clinical skills, namely the assessment and measurement of the ASD phenotype and associated endophenotypes. Additionally technical skills in the design and implementation of paradigms for EEG and the processing and analysis of EEG data will be acquired. Finally the applicant will learn how to apply technology and EEG methods in the context of a therapeutic application for ASD. The potential fellow may be from a behavioural sciences or computer sciences background.
An ideal environment exists at Trinity College Dublin to provide the holder of this fellowship with the support to undertake this research opportunity. The Autism and Rare Neurodevelopmental Disorder Research Group is part of the Neuropsychiatric Genetics group within the School of Medicine. It includes a multidisciplinary team with extensive expertise on clinical assessment, neuropsychology, neurophysiology, neuroimaging, molecular genetics, bioinformatics and functional biology of autism and developmental disorders. The Trinity Centre for Bioengineering within the School of Medicine and School of Engineering has extensive experience in EEG neuroimaging methods and analysis for clinical applications. The holder of this fellowship will be able to avail of training with Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Research Group and the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering to complement their expertise.
Further information can be obtained by contacting
Professor Richard Reilly, Trinity Centre for Bioengineering, E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sleep bruxism (night-time tooth grinding) is a very common and destructive clinical condition about which relatively little is understood. It is most commonly managed with occlusal splints but there is a lack of clinical consensus on best practice for their use and very little scientific knowledge of their mechanism of action. This project aims to combine historical and clinical data in a novel analysis to establish baseline characteristics of bruxers and their response to splint use.
Sleep bruxism affects 8% of the adult population. While it is known to be associated with transient lightening of the sleep state, the underlying aetological trigger is not well understood. In severe cases, or cases that are poorly managed over time, bruxism can cause considerable damage to teeth and restorations. For instance, veneers fail 7 times more quickly in bruxers compared to non-bruxers and implant restorations have 68% more technical complications. Occlusal splints are the international standard of care for bruxism patients. The mechanism of action of splints is as yet unclear and little is known about the determinants of a favourable treatment response. It has been reported that there is some variability in patients’ response to this treatment modality but no physiological basis for this inconsistency has been established. In addition, there are no detailed data available on how the splint response progresses over the first three months of use. As a result, there is a lack of consensus amongst clinicians about the appropriate duration of use of splints for bruxism patients. Addressing these two areas would provide greater scientific insight on a possible mechanism of action of splints and greater clinical clarity on best practice for early splint use.
This research project will examine the early response of bruxers to splint provision using retrospective and prospective approaches. A unique database of sleep studies that recorded the effect of splints on bruxism patients will be accessed from a specialized sleep centre in Canada. Detailed analysis of multiple physiological variables recorded in these sleep studies will be carried out to elucidate whether this could suggest a mechanism of action for splints. A prospective study will involve patients whose bruxism activity is analysed every night for 3 months, using a combination of devices, including a novel, sensor-containing splint. This will generate a very detailed picture of the variety of responses to splint treatment and help to provide guidance on clinical usage in the early stages of management.
The overall aim of the project is to examine and clarify how bruxism activity is influenced by the provision of a splint. The following objectives will be
- to examine baseline physiological characteristics of bruxers during sleep, before and after splint use.
- to evaluate the ability of a novel splint device to measure bruxism during sleep.
- to monitor the effect of the splint on bruxism over a period of time. The null hypothesis is that an occlusal splint has no effect on sleep bruxism or its associated physiological changes.
A 3-year scholarship is available. More details can be found here
Are you interested in pursuing your PhD degree or carrying out post-doctoral research in the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering?
If so, please email email@example.com with the following information
- The Research theme you are most interested in (Biomaterials, Regenerative Medicine, Neural Engineering, Muskuloskeletal or Cardiovascular)
- A cover letter detailing your background and research interests
- Your C.V.
- Any papers and publications you were involved in