iRelate Launch

iRelate Launch

iRELATE is a European Research Council funded project examining the impact of genes, early life...


Current Research Activities


NUI Galway is home to a number of internationally recognised researchers and groups active in the fields of neuroimaging, cognitive neuroscience, and psychiatric genetics. This has resulted in a strong history of collaborative research funding (e.g. As funded by the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council) and research publications. This success has been based in part on the creation of large imaging and genetic datasets (e.g. as funded by the IRC, HRB and Wellcome Trust), positioning members of the center to participate in large international consortia (e.g. Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis – ENIGMA and PSYSCAN - Translating neuroimaging findings from research into clinical practice). 

The two main research groups that currently constitute NICOG are:

The Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory founded by Prof. Colm McDonald and Dr. Dara Cannon in 2006 ( The lab has completed several projects both with locally acquired neuroimaging data from University College Hospital Galway, and through several collaborations with academic departments including the Institute of Psychiatry, London, the University of Cambridge, the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Dublin and the National Institutes of Health in the USA. The laboratory's main research themes have focussed on:

•          Mapping of brain abnormalities associated with psychotic and affective disorders.

•          The relationship of such brain abnormalities to genetic and environmental risk factors, cognition, course and treatment of illness.

•          The association of structural and functional brain abnormalities with genotypic variation.

•          The application of novel neuroimaging analysis methodologies, including diffusion tensor imaging tractography and netwrok based analysis, to probing brain structural connectivity in patients with psychotic illness.

The Cognitive Genetics and cognitive therapy group is co-led by Prof Donohoe and Dr. Morris (CogGene). Originally established in 2009, the focus on the group, which currently consists of 12 researchers, is on characterising the effects of genetic risk variants for schizophrenia and related neuropsychiatric disorders. To do this the group employs neuropsychological, electrophysiological, and neuro-imaging techniques for investigating the role of gene function at the level of individual brain systems. As part of this work the group is also actively involved in developing psychological therapies for major mental health disorders, including therapies that address cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. Currently, the group is focused on:

•          Understanding the contribution of genetic risk to social disability by measuring the effects of these variants on cortical and behavioural measures of social cognition.

•          Investigating neural connectivity within the brain in terms of (1) structural connectivity: integrity of white matter tracts connecting different parts of the brain; (2) Functional connectivity: the correlation of activity between different parts of the brain; and (3) Effective connectivity: establishing the effect of one group of neurons on another.

•          Establishing whether and how cognitive deficits associated with major psychiatric disorder can be ameliorated by behavioural interventions known as cognitive remediation therapy.