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Development and evaluation of a novel treatment intervention for people with acquired brain injury

   College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences

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  Prof J Evans, Dr K Flegal  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Acquired brain injury (ABI) frequently results in difficulties in cognitive functions such as memory, concentration, planning, and problem solving. There is a pressing need to develop more effective interventions to remediate such cognitive deficits. Neuropsychological rehabilitation interventions developed in a clinical setting have shown some beneficial effects, but clinical interventions may be more effective if informed by findings from cognitive neuroscience. Research into cognitive training using methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has contributed to an understanding of factors that promote changes in brain function, but this approach seldom includes patients with cognitive deficits. Its potential for application with clinical populations is therefore uncertain, meaning that people who may benefit do not have access to interventions that may improve their health and wellbeing.

The proposed studentship project brings together methods from neuropsychological rehabilitation and cognitive neuroscience to investigate 1) the effects of neuropsychological rehabilitation interventions on neuroimaging outcomes following ABI (systematic review), 2) the feasibility of combining an existing clinical intervention targeting mental strategies with an adaptive training programme targeting core cognitive processes, and 3) whether the novel treatment combination promotes changes in brain function that are detectable using fMRI.

This project will develop and evaluate a training intervention that aims to improve outcomes from a strategy-based rehabilitation intervention, Goal Management Training, by adding process-based cognitive training with adaptive difficulty to enhance the executive function of working memory updating. Measures of feasibility, acceptability, and fidelity will be taken, and effect sizes of differences in pre- to post-training changes on neural, cognitive, and functional measurements will be determined. For carrying out and analysing results from the intervention, prior experience of working with people with cognitive impairment or conducting fMRI brain imaging research is desirable.

The student undertaking this project will develop skills in cognitive neuroscience, clinical neuropsychology,neuropsychological rehabilitation and systematic review methodology, with learning outcomes including clinical assessment and rehabilitation methods relevant to working with a clinical population, adaptive cognitive training methods and fMRI brain imaging. The successful candidate will participate in an interdisciplinary collaboration with partners in the NHSGGC Community Treatment Centre for Brain Injury and the Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging at the University of Glasgow.

Start date: 1 October 2018.

When applying, please enter the project title in the programme description box of the application form.

Funding Notes

This project is funded by the Neurosciences Foundation and the Theresa and Mortimer Sackler Foundation. Current research council rates, £14,777 per annum.