The aims of rehabilitation research at the Unit are to:
- Investigate normal processes, particularly attention, memory and executive function.
- Investigate how these processes break down following brain injury and how individuals recover.
- Improve assessment of cognitive and emotional functioning and our understanding of how difficulties in these areas affect people’s everyday lives.
- Apply ideas from our own and others’ basic research to improving and evaluating cognitive rehabilitation.
- Use results from rehabilitation and recovery studies – as well as behavioural and functional imaging work – to tell us more about the basic functions and recovery processes of the brain.
- To share research findings with the public, clinicians and other researchers.
In the rehabilitation group of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, our particular interests lie in how the cognitive functions of the brain continue to work and recover following brain damage and how and whether we can help these processes through rehabilitation. We are also interested in what these patterns of recovery and response to rehabilitation tell us about the workings of the healthy brain. These are very broad topics and inevitably we tend to specialise in particular areas. Historically, the Rehabilitation Research Group has mainly worked in the areas of memory assessment and rehabilitation (under the direction of Barbara Wilson: see further below) and in Attention and Executive function (under the direction or Ian Robertson and then Tom Manly). With Barbara’s formal retirement in 2007, the current emphasis lies more at the attentional/executive end of the spectrum but this will hopefully broaden out in the near future. Parts of this programme have recently relocated from Elsworth House to the Herchel Smith Building on the Forvie site at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. This is a joint venture between the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge University (Departments of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences), and the MRC andWellcome Trust funded Behavioural & Clinical Neurosciences Institute. The refurbishment was further supported by grants from the Medical Research Council (in addition to that via the CBU and BCNI) and the National Institute of Health Research. This new, federated facility for translational cognitive neuroscience consists of about 1000 square metres of office and meeting space and a clinical research facility. In addition to housing 50 staff, there are facilities for electroencephalography (EEG), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), cognitive testing and blood sampling. The building is near to other research groups on the Forvie site, neuroimaging facilities and neurological and rehabilitation services in Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
The Herchel Smith Building on the Addenbrooke’s site.
“… one of the few centers in the world doing systematic research in order to find novel techniques that significantly and reliably improve outcome in patients with executive function deficits due to brain damage. More of these kinds of centers, staffed by experimental specialists with skills in psychology or neuropsychology, experimental design, neuroplasticity, and outcomes are needed.”
Jordan Grafman, Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 2008.