Real-world cognition in the healthy and disordered brain
My research program seeks to understand how the functional organization of the brain supports cognition and resilience after brain injury. I have developed a naturalistic approach for measuring high-level cognition in response to real-world events and showed, for the first time, that a common neural code—based on the similarity of activity across individuals in key brain regions—underpins shared understanding of real-world narratives, such as engaging audio-visual movies.
Using this approach, I demonstrated that a brain-injured patient, who had remained behaviourally non-responsive for 16 years, retained intact conscious experiences. These findings shed light on the common basis of human cognition, and enable its interpretation independently of behaviour in clinical populations with severely limited motor output, e.g., brain-injured or Parkinson's patients, and those with unreliable or limited verbal report, e.g., infants and toddlers. Additionally, my work explores the medico-ethical and societal implications of such applications.
Dr. Lorina Naci
Assistant Professor, Psychology
Contact details: School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin