Understanding the structure and functions of our brains brings us a good way along the path of understanding ourselves as humans; progress in understanding the nervous system materially benefits human health, welfare and knowledge.
Research in TCIN is captured in the following phrase: ‘Understanding the brain from molecules to mind’
The Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN) leads brain research in Ireland and is the country’s only dedicated neuroscience research institute. TCIN has led the growth of Trinity College Dublin’s and Ireland’s strong international reputation in neuroscience to become one of Europe’s leading research institutes.
Benefits to Society
Neuroscience has a uniquely transformative potential as a science in modern society. It impacts on public policy in a wide range of areas, from education to healthcare, from the legal system, to bioethical issues. Two examples illustrate the broad potential impact of neuroscience research: Diseases of the brain account for about 35% of the overall disease burden of the European Union, costing about €400 billion per year. These costs will increase dramatically as the population of the EU ages. Delaying the onset and attenuating the disease burden would enhance individual quality of life and reduce the strain on the healthcare systems of the EU.  Neuroscience promises transformative effects on education, as the importance of critical developmental periods and of appropriate environmental enrichment to maximise human potential become understood.
The mind and brain sciences reach into every aspect of human behaviour. The discoveries made in TCIN inform undergraduate and postgraduate education, drive changes in industry and clinical practice, and allow us to lead international research collaborations. This dynamic is driven directly by the generation and transmission of new knowledge with a human impact and human consequence.
Research at Trinity
Reflecting TCIN’s interdisciplinary ethos, our Principal Investigators align their research activity across certain thematic areas. By leveraging our research strengths
in these areas, we prioritise our focus on innovation, continue to develop our successful education programmes and continue to build our significant
contribution to society and outreach activities.
We have consolidated our existing strengths within the following three thematic research areas:
- Synapses, Cognition and Behaviour: focuses on the analysis of the functions of the brain (such as attention, memory, reasoning) with the aim of understanding the brain systems that sustain and underlie specific psychological functions (such as spatial navigation or episodic memory). This thematic research area addresses a major challenge for contemporary science: to understand the brain’s systems and circuits sufficiently to enable cures for neurological conditions associated with age, injury and disease.
- Neuropsychiatry and Neurodevelopmental Disorders: addresses neuropsychiatric disorders which are major contributors to the global burden of disease and are thus of significant individual and socioeconomic importance. Research in this thematic area develops a scientific understanding of the basic mechanisms underlying these disorders, and the translation of this knowledge into improving clinical diagnosis and enabling effective treatments.
- Neurodegeneration, Neuroprotection and Neurorepair: Understanding the fundamental mechanisms by which the brain develops and matures, and by which it responds to insult, are central unsolved problems of contemporary neuroscience. The major goals for this research area are to identify new targets for the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, and to engage in translational neuroscience by exploiting findings of preclinical studies for application to clinical disorders.
We plan to further develop our platform technologies in Imaging and Neural Engineering.
TCIN possesses advanced systems for small-bore preclinical brain imaging, and for human brain imaging. Our goal here is to use neuroimaging tools in a truly integrative, interdisciplinary manner for the detection, real-time monitoring, and diagnostic prediction of physiological and cognitive states, in a way that has not been successfully achieved elsewhere. Brain imaging research is often conducted separately from other research areas such as molecular and cellular neuroscience. TCIN is unique in bringing these different research strands together in the same building, and aims to build on unique synergies in neural engineering, including neurodiagnostics, neural prostheses, neuromodulation devices and therapeutic electrical stimulation.
The research champion for this theme is Professor Shane O'Mara.