Dr. Kathy Ruddy – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience

    • Dr. Kathy Ruddy – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience's presentations

    Dr. Ruddy is a neuroscientist at Trinity College Dublin, with an Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellowship. She finished her PhD at Queen’s University Belfast in 2014, focussing on how the brain controls movement. Following this she spent three years at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) in Switzerland.

    Title:  A different state of mind: Neurofeedback for understanding and improving brain function

    Synopsis:  The human brain has a remarkable capacity to learn from feedback. As we interact with our environment the brain processes the consequences of our actions, and uses this feedback in order to update its stored representations for how to perform certain behaviours optimally. This learning-by-feedback process occurs regardless of whether we are consciously aware of it or not.

    The more interesting implication of this fundamental mechanism is that the brain can also learn from itself, forming the basis of the neurofeedback phenomenon.

    Human brain activity exhibits distinct electrical ‘states’ that are characterised by brain rhythms with different frequencies and amplitudes. Individuals can learn how to regulate these rhythms, when provided with real-time feedback of otherwise unobservable ongoing brain processes (i.e., neurofeedback). Neurofeedback paves the way for new technologies that will allow individuals to regulate aspects of their own brain function in order to reach states that enhance cognitive abilities, learning or improve symptoms of pathology. My research goes beyond the state-of-the-art by providing unconventional neurofeedback of brain signals that have never before been considered as targets for this methodology. The core concept of my approach involves using neurofeedback as an experimental tool to modulate brain signals of one modality during simultaneous recording with another. Using feedback from evoked muscle responses to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, I propose a new form of therapy to improve brain re-wiring following stroke.