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Lorina Naci
Assistant Professor, Psychology
Assistant Professor, Trinity Inst. of Neurosciences (TCIN)


A major focus in my lab is the investigation of the functional brain organization that supports human cognition and consciousness, and how this organization breaks down in the disordered brain. My work combines psychological theory, neuroimaging, and research of brain-injured and anesthesized patients, and translates this knowledge to develop clinically applicable neuroimaging measures. Additionally, my work explores the medico-ethical and societal implications of such applications, to build ethical guidelines for their clinical use.

A second focus is the investigation of early biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease by combining neuroimaging, clinical, neuropsychological and physiological assessments. In the face of a global dementia pandemic, it is extremely important to understand the nature of the earliest cognitive/functional changes, as well as their biological basis. This can lead to better diagnoses, potential targets for treatment, and better understanding of the disease itself. We carry out this work in collaboration with the PREVENT UK project.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Haugg A., Cusack R., Gonzales-Lara L., Sorger B., Owen A.M.,, Do patients thought to lack consciousness retain the capacity for internal as well external awareness?, Frontiers in Neurology, 2018 Journal Article, 2018 DOI URL

Naci, Lorina and Haugg, Amelie and MacDonald, Alex and Anello, Mimma and Houldin, Evan and Naqshbandi, Shakib and Gonzalez-Lara, Laura E and Arango, Miguel and Harle, Christopher and Cusack, Rhodri and Owen, Adrian M, Functional diversity of brain networks supports consciousness and verbal intelligence, Biorxiv Neuroscience, 2018 Journal Article, 2018

Graham, M., Doherty, C., & Naci, L, Using neuroimaging to detect covert awareness and determine prognosis of comatose patients: informing surrogate decision-makers of individual patient results., Seminars in Neurology, 38, (5), 2018, p555-560 Journal Article, 2018 DOI

Naci, Lorina and Sinai, Leah and Owen, Adrian M, Detecting and interpreting conscious experiences in behaviorally non-responsive patients, NeuroImage, 145, (Pt B), 2017, p304â€"313 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Gibson, R. M., Chennu, S., Fernández-Espejo, D., Naci. L., Owen, A. M, Cruse, D. , Reply to "Is command following unrelated to top-down attention in consciousness disorders?" , Annals of Neurology, 81, (1), 2017, p160-161 Journal Article, 2017 DOI Other

Naci, Lorina and Graham, Mackenzie and Owen, Adrian M and Weijer, Charles, Covert narrative capacity: Mental life in patients thought to lack consciousness, Annals of clinical and translational neurology, 4, (1), 2017, p61â€"70 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Abdalmalak, Androu and Milej, Daniel and Diop, Mamadou and Shokouhi, Mahsa and Naci, Lorina and Owen, Adrian M and St Lawrence, Keith, Can time-resolved NIRS provide the sensitivity to detect brain activity during motor imagery consistently?, Biomedical optics express, 8, (4), 2017, p2162â€"2172 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Sinai, Leah and Owen, Adrian M and Naci, Lorina, Mapping preserved real-world cognition in severely brain-injured patients, Frontiers in bioscience (Landmark edition), 22, 2017, p815â€"823 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Graham, Mackenzie and Owen, Adrian M and à ipi, Kaman and Weijer, Charles and Naci, Lorina, Minimizing the Harm of Accidental Awareness Under General Anesthesia: New Perspectives From Patients Misdiagnosed as Being in a Vegetative State, Anesthesia and analgesia, 2017 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Gibson, Raechelle M and Chennu, Srivas and Fernández-Espejo, Davinia and Naci, Lorina and Owen, Adrian M and Cruse, Damian, Somatosensory attention identifies both overt and covert awareness in disorders of consciousness, Annals of neurology, 80, (3), 2016, p412â€"423 Journal Article, 2016 DOI

Graham, Mackenzie and Weijer, Charles and Peterson, Andrew and Naci, Lorina and Cruse, Damian and Fernández-Espejo, Davinia and Gonzalez-Lara, Laura and Owen, Adrian M, Acknowledging awareness: informing families of individual research results for patients in the vegetative state, Journal of medical ethics, 41, (7), 2015, p534â€"538 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Peterson, Andrew and Cruse, Damian and Naci, Lorina and Weijer, Charles and Owen, Adrian M, Risk, diagnostic error, and the clinical science of consciousness, NeuroImage. Clinical, 7, 2015, p588â€"597 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Graham, M., Weijer, C., Cruse, D.,Fernandez-Espejo, D., Gofton, T., Gonzalez-Lara, L., Lazosky, A., Naci, L., Norton, L., Peterson, A., Speechley, N. K., Young,B., Owen, M. A., An Ethics of Welfare for Behaviourally Non-responsive Patients with Covert Awareness, American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience, 6, (2), 2015, p31-41 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

MacDonald, Alex A and Naci, Lorina and MacDonald, Penny A and Owen, Adrian M, Anesthesia and neuroimaging: investigating the neural correlates of unconsciousness, Trends in cognitive sciences, 19, (2), 2015, p100â€"107 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Peterson, Andrew and Norton, Loretta and Naci, Lorina and Owen, Adrian M and Weijer, Charles, Toward a science of brain death, The American journal of bioethics : AJOB, 14, (8), 2014, p29â€"31 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Naci, Lorina and Cusack, Rhodri and Anello, Mimma and Owen, Adrian M, A common neural code for similar conscious experiences in different individuals, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111, (39), 2014, p14277â€"14282 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Weijer, Charles and Peterson, Andrew and Webster, Fiona and Graham, Mackenzie and Cruse, Damian and Fernández-Espejo, Davinia and Gofton, Teneille and Gonzalez-Lara, Laura E and Lazosky, Andrea and Naci, Lorina and Norton, Loretta and Speechley, Kathy and Young, Bryan and Owen, Adrian M, Ethics of neuroimaging after serious brain injury, BMC medical ethics, 15, 2014, p41 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Peterson, A., Naci, L., Weijer, C., Owen, A., A principled argument, but not a practical one, American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience, 4, (1), 2013, p52 - 53 Journal Article, 2013 DOI

Naci, Lorina and Owen, Adrian M, Making every word count for nonresponsive patients, JAMA neurology, 70, (10), 2013, p1235â€"1241 Journal Article, 2013 DOI

Naci, Lorina and Cusack, Rhodri and Jia, Vivian Z and Owen, Adrian M, The brain's silent messenger: using selective attention to decode human thought for brain-based communication, The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 33, (22), 2013, p9385â€"9393 Journal Article, 2013 DOI

Cusack, Rhodri and Veldsman, Michele and Naci, Lorina and Mitchell, Daniel J and Linke, Annika C, Seeing different objects in different ways: measuring ventral visual tuning to sensory and semantic features with dynamically adaptive imaging, Human brain mapping, 33, (2), 2012, p387â€"397 Journal Article, 2012 DOI

Naci, Lorina and Taylor, Kirsten I and Cusack, Rhodri and Tyler, Lorraine K, Are the senses enough for sense? Early high-level feedback shapes our comprehension of multisensory objects, Frontiers in integrative neuroscience, 6, 2012, p82 Journal Article, 2012 DOI

Peterson, A., Naci, L., Cruse, C., Fernández-Espejo, E., Graham, M., Weijer, C., Owen, A. O., Assessing decision making capacity in the behaviourally nonreponsive patient with residual covert awareness, American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience, 4, (4), 2012, p3-14 Journal Article, 2012 DOI

Naci, Lorina and Monti, Martin M and Cruse, Damian and KÃŒbler, Andrea and Sorger, Bettina and Goebel, Rainer and Kotchoubey, Boris and Owen, Adrian M, Brain-computer interfaces for communication with nonresponsive patients, Annals of neurology, 72, (3), 2012, p312â€"323 Journal Article, 2012 DOI

Cleary, B.J., Murphy, D.J., Reply, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 205, (5), 2011 Journal Article, 2011

Covington, M., Congzhou, H., Brown, C., Naci, L., Brown, J. , How complex is that sentence? A proposed revision of the Rosenberg and Abbeduto D-Level Scale, Computer Analysis of Speech for Psychological Research, University of Georgia, 2006 Journal Article, 2006

Covington, Michael A and He, Congzhou and Brown, Cati and Naci, Lorina and McClain, Jonathan T and Fjordbak, Bess Sirmon and Semple, James and Brown, John, Schizophrenia and the structure of language: the linguist's view, Schizophrenia research, 77, (1), 2005, p85â€"98 Journal Article, 2005 DOI

Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Irwin, K., Sexton, C., Lawlor, B., Naci, L, Healthy ageing and dementia: Two roads diverging in midlife?, 2018 Journal Article, 2018

Decoding thoughts in disorders of consciousness in, editor(s)M. Monti and W. G. Sannita , Brain Function and Responsiveness in Severe Disorders of Consciousness., Springer, 2016, pp67-80 , [Owen, A. and Naci, L.] Book Chapter, 2016

Decoding thoughts in behaviourally non-responsive patients. in, editor(s)Walter Sinnott-Armstrong , Finding Consciousness, Oxford University Press, 2016, [Naci, L. ] Book Chapter, 2016 DOI

Brain-Computer Interfaces for Assessment and Communication in Disorders of Consciousness in, Emerging Theory and Practice in Neuroprosthetics, IGI Global, 2014, pp181-214 , [Christoph Guger, Bettina Sorger, Quentin Noirhomme, Lorina Naci, Martin M. Monti, Ruben Real, Christoph Pokorny, Sandra Veser, Zulay Lugo, Lucia Quitadamo, Damien Lesenfants, Monica Risetti, Rita Formisano, Jlenia Toppi, Laura Astolfi, Thomas Emmerling, Lizette Heine, Helena Erlbeck, Petar Horki, Boris Kotchoubey, Luigi Bianchi, Donatella Mattia, Rainer Goebel, Adrian M. Owen, Frederic Pellas, Gernot Müller-Putz, Steven Laureys, Andrea Kübler, Febo Cincotti] Book Chapter, 2014 DOI

Research Expertise


One major strand of my research programme investigates severe brain injury. Severe brain injuries place an enormous burden on health-care systems throughout the world. In the USA and European Union, 13 million people live with the consequences of acquired brain injury. This is a public health and socio-economic problem. The lives of patients and their families are terribly disrupted, and whole communities suffer as a result. I have shown that functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is a highly sensitive tool for uncovering covert cognition and awareness in brain-injured, long-term non-responsive patients, who are clinically diagnosed as being in a vegetative state (VS) and thought to lack consciousness. Another strand of my work, since joining the GBHI at TCD, applies the neuroimaging techniques that I have developed to establish novel biomarkers of dementia, in particular Alzheimer's disease in mid-life.


  • Title
    • Hear/Say. Removing the stigma of dementia through film and the arts.
  • Funding Agency
    • Global Brain Health Institute Project Grant
  • Date From
    • 2018
  • Date To
    • 2020
  • Title
    • Using dynamic functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging to Develop Early Biomarkers of Alzheimer's Disease
  • Funding Agency
    • Trinity Provost Scholarship Award
  • Date From
    • 2017
  • Date To
    • 2021
  • Title
    • PREVENT Dementia
  • Funding Agency
    • Global Brain Health Institute Project Grant; Trinity Foundation; PREVENT UK
  • Date From
    • 2017
  • Date To
    • 2019
  • Title
    • Neuroimaging-based Measures of Brain Health in Comatose Patients.
  • Funding Agency
    • Welcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund
  • Date From
    • 2017
  • Date To
    • 2022
  • Title
    • Using Neuroimaging and Portable Technologies to Develop Music Based Interventions for Brain-injured Patients
  • Funding Agency
    • School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin
  • Date From
    • 2017
  • Date To
    • 2022


AGEING; ALZHEIMER'S DEMENTIA; BRAIN AGEING; CONSCIOUSNESS; Dementia/ Alzheimer's Disease; disorders of consciousness; Functional neuroimaging; Minimally Conscious State; Neuroimaging; TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY; Vegetative state



Member of Review Panel, Cooke International Graduate Awards to Oxford and Cambridge Universities, UK 2017

Scientific Advisor for NeuroBlot Inc., personalized app-based cognitive screening 2017

Peer-Reviewer for Scientific Journals: Journal of Consciousness Studies / Intensive Care Medicine / Journal of the Neurological Sciences / New England Journal of Medicine / Brain / Annals of Neurology / BMC Neurology / Cerebral Cortex / Journal of Experimental Psychology / NeuroImage / Frontiers in Human Neuroscience / AJOB Empirical Bioethics

Scientific Reviewer for Brain-Computer Interface 7th International Meeting, California, USA / Cambridge University Press / The Organization for Human Brain Mapping Annual Meeting / Thesis report for the BioSciences Master program at Ens de Lyon, France / Decoder Grant Report, University of Maastricht / Decoder Grant Report, Wurzburg University / Decoder Grant Report, University of Liege

Editor-in-chief of BlueSci Science Magazine at Cambridge University - Managed team of 20 editors in 8 weeks turn-around production cycle of the 32-page glossy magazine, with 5000 copies in print edition. - Organized science media training seminars with invited speakers from the science media, including from Nature Network and the New Scientist.

Awards and Honours

L'Oréal-Unesco for Women In Science International Rising Talents Award 2017

Academic Achievement Award, Albanian Canadian Excellence Award, Canada 2017

L'Oréal for Women in Science Research Excellence Fellowship, with the support of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO 2016

Selected for the Women in Science Leadership workshop, in Banff Canada, by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. 2016

Postdoctoral Scholar of the Year, Western University, Canada. 2016

Distinguished Person of the Year, Albanian Diaspora of Canada, Canada. 2015

One of Best 51 Discoveries Since 1878, Western University, Canada. 2014

Graduate Fellowship ($300,000; 3% success rate), Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, USA 2004-2010

Travel Grant Award ($1500), Brain (the Journal), UK. 2009; 2010

Marie Curie Trainee Award ($10,000), Marie Curie School for Neuroscience, Italy. 2008

Clare College Graduate Student Grant (£1,000), Clare College, University of Cambridge, UK 2008

Grindley Research Grant (£2,000), Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, UK. 2008

Cambridge Philosophical Society Travel Grant (£500), University of Cambridge, UK. 2007-2008

Graduate Presentation Award (2% success), Cognitive Neuroscience Society, USA. 2007

Travel Fellowship Award ($750), Organization for Human Brain Mapping, USA 2006

Grindley Travel Grant (£800), Experimental Psychology Society, UK. 2006

Chibnall Travel Grant (£1,000), Clare College, University of Cambridge, UK. 2006

Richard B. Russell Leadership Fellow, University of Georgia (UGA), USA. 2003

MSc Research Award ($50,000), GlaxoSmithKline Inc., UK 2002

All-Americal Scholar Collegiate Award, University of Georgia, USA. 2002

Presidential Scholar, University of Georgia, USA 2001-2002

Phi Beta Kappa Honour Society, University of Georgia, USA. 2001

Foundation Fellowship Award ($100,000; 0.5% success rate), UGA, USA. 2000


Member of Governing Board for the Global Brain Health Institute, Trinity College Dublin 2017