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Professor Shane O'Mara

  • Position:Professor of Experimental Brain Research
  • Contact details: Rm 3.43, Institute of Neuroscience,Lloyd Building, Trinity College Dublin
  • Email:
  • Telephone: 353-01-896-8447
  • Lab page:

Research Interests

Shane O'Mara is Professor of Experimental Brain Research at Trinity College Dublin, Principal Investigator and former Director of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from NUI Galway and a DPhil from the University of Oxford. He is a Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin (FTCD), and was the first Ireland-based elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (FAPS) and is an elected member of the Royal Irish Academy (MRIA). 

His research work is supported by industry, philanthropy and biomedical charities. He was the first recipient in Ireland of a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award, which are provided to “support exceptional, world-class researchers, who already hold a recognized academic position and whose research will address the most important questions about health and disease.” 

He has published more than 110 peer-reviewed papers in the areas of his research interests, including brain systems supporting learning, memory, cognition and decision-making; brain systems affected by stress, anxiety, depression and motivation; and the application of brain science to business and organisations and to public policy issues.

His forthcoming bookWhy Torture Doesn't Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation, published by Harvard University Press, will be released in Nov 2015.

OMara Blog

Selected Publications

Wright, N. F., Vann, S. D., Erichsen, J. T., O'Mara, S. M., and Aggleton, J. P. (2013) Segregation of parallel inputs to the anteromedial and anteroventral thalamic nuclei of the rat, The Journal of comparative neurology 521, 2966-2986.

Mullally, S. L., and O'Mara, S. M. (2013) Suppressing the encoding of new information in memory: a behavioral study derived from principles of hippocampal function, PLoS One 8, e50814.

Jankowski, M. M., Ronnqvist, K. C., Tsanov, M., Vann, S. D., Wright, N. F., Erichsen, J. T., Aggleton, J. P., and O'Mara, S. M. (2013) The anterior thalamus provides a subcortical circuit supporting memory and spatial navigation, Frontiers in systems neuroscience 7, 45.

Wang, B. W., Hok, V., Della-Chiesa, A., Callaghan, C., Barlow, S., Tsanov, M., Bechara, R., Irving, E., Virley, D. J., Upton, N., and O'Mara, S. M. (2012) Rosiglitazone enhances learning, place cell activity, and synaptic plasticity in middle-aged rats, Neurobiol Aging 33, 835 e813-830.

Middei, S., Spalloni, A., Longone, P., Pittenger, C., O'Mara, S. M., Marie, H., and Ammassari-Teule, M. (2012) CREB selectively controls learning-induced structural remodeling of neurons, Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.) 19, 330-336.

Hok, V., Chah, E., Reilly, R. B., and O'Mara, S. M. (2012) Hippocampal dynamics predict interindividual cognitive differences in rats, The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 32, 3540-3551.

Feeney, J., Gaffney, P., and O'Mara, S. M. (2012) Age and cortisol levels modulate judgment of positive and negative facial expressions, Psychoneuroendocrinology 37, 827-835.

Callaghan, C. K., Hok, V., Della-Chiesa, A., Virley, D. J., Upton, N., and O'Mara, S. M. (2012) Age-related declines in delayed non-match-to-sample performance (DNMS) are reversed by the novel 5HT6 receptor antagonist SB742457, Neuropharmacology 63, 890-897.

Vann, S. D., Erichsen, J. T., O'Mara, S. M., and Aggleton, J. P. (2011) Selective disconnection of the hippocampal formation projections to the mammillary bodies produces only mild deficits on spatial memory tasks: implications for fornix function, Hippocampus 21, 945-957.

Tsanov, M., Vann, S. D., Erichsen, J. T., Wright, N., Aggleton, J. P., and O'Mara, S. M. (2011) Differential regulation of synaptic plasticity of the hippocampal and the hypothalamic inputs to the anterior thalamus, Hippocampus 21, 1-8.

Tsanov, M., Chah, E., Wright, N., Vann, S. D., Reilly, R., Erichsen, J. T., Aggleton, J. P., and O'Mara, S. M. (2011) Oscillatory entrainment of thalamic neurons by theta rhythm in freely moving rats, Journal of neurophysiology 105, 4-17.

Tsanov, M., Chah, E., Vann, S. D., Reilly, R. B., Erichsen, J. T., Aggleton, J. P., and O'Mara, S. M. (2011) Theta-modulated head direction cells in the rat anterior thalamus, The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 31, 9489-9502.

Research Funding

Glaxo SmithKline / Industrial Development Authority Science Foundation Ireland, The Wellcome Trust, Health Research Board..