European Research Council awards €3m to leading TCD neuroscientist
17 April 2018
The Thomas Mitchell Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Rhodri Cusack, at TCD has been awarded an EU European Research Council Advanced grant valued at €3m
Prof Rhodri Cusack inspects a brain with a helping hand from his son, Calin Cusack
The Thomas Mitchell Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Rhodri Cusack, at Trinity College Dublin has been awarded an EU European Research Council (ERC) advanced grant valued at €3 million. These highly prestigious awards allow exceptional researchers to pursue ground-breaking research. This is the seventh ERC advanced grant award to Trinity College Dublin, out of a total of 14 ERC advanced grants to Ireland.
The award will see Prof Cusack and his team at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN) conduct a research project that will for the first time use neuroimaging to measure the hidden changes in mental representations during infancy and compare them to predictions from deep neural networks, the technology that has been responsible for recent dramatic advances in artificial intelligence.
New advances in artificial intelligence
He will investigate the importance of pre-training, the learning that doesn’t manifest in behaviour until much later. Prof Cusack’s efforts to understand how pre-training during infancy shapes neural representations could revolutionise developmental neuroscience, lead to new advances in artificial intelligence, and help us understand why brain injury in infants sometimes affects mental development, but sometimes does not.
Explaining his research and its impact, Prof Cusack said: “How many parents have held their baby and wondered what is going on in that tiny mind? I am excited to be able to bring together recent advances in neuroimaging and in artificial intelligence, to address this question.”
“This could make a real difference for infants from the neonatal intensive care unit. Currently, it is difficult for paediatricians to know which infants with neurological injury will develop cognitive and behavioural problems, and which will not. By understanding the development of mental representations in early infancy, we aim to improve diagnosis and identify new interventions.”
Awarded to the most outstanding researchers
Congratulating Prof Cusack on his success, the dean of research, Prof Linda Doyle said: “We are extremely proud of Prof Cusack’s achievement. ERC advanced grants are only awarded to the most outstanding researchers, and give them the freedom to work on their best and most creative ideas for the benefit of science, society and the economy.
“Prof Cusack’s work focusing on changes in mental representations during infancy will bring a new level of understanding of how the brain works, and open up new possibilities for how we respond to neurological injury.
“Prof Cusack’s achievement not only recognises the significance of his research, but also builds on Trinity’s strong track record of ERC success. It is our seventh ERC advanced grant, bringing our total number of ERC grants across all categories, including Advanced, Starter and Consolidator to 42.”http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2018/04/17/european-research-council-awards-e3m-leading-tcd-neuroscientist/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/a-cisick1-1024x640.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/a-cisick1-300x300.jpgNewsawards,research,TCD