Dr Claire Bradley

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Queensland Brain Institute
claire.bradley@uq.edu.au
+61 7 334 66326

Overview

Brain plasticity refers to the ability of the brain to undergo change in response to various life events, training, learning or simple external stimulation. Recently, non-invasive brain stimulation tools have been developed that allow manipulation of brain plasticity. I am using these techniques (transcranial alternating current stimulation, tACS and transcranial magnetic stimulation, TMS) to try to boost plasticity, especially in the elderly brain, where it may be diminished.

Research Interests

  • Boosting neuroplasticity using brain stimulation in elderly people
    Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change in response to its environment. It is a key mechanism behind learning and memory and it is known to decline with age. Given that sleep is crucial to memory function, and that sleep quality usually decreases with age, I am interested in using brain stimulation to mimick the effects of sleep in awake, elderly people in the hope of increasing neuroplasticity. This project, headed by Dr. Martin Sale and Prof. Jason Mattingley, has potential implications for rehabilitation following brain injury or sleep disorders, but is currently explored in healthy, pathology-free individuals.
  • Pain and brain stimulation
    Stimulation of the motor cortex can alleviate pain in chronic neuropathic pain patients, but the mechanisms sub-tending this effect are still debated. I have used brain activity recordings to understand the effects of brain stimulation on pain perception. I am currently interested in finding new targets for non-invasive brain stimulation that would allow modulation of pain perception - I am currently focusing on a region known as the insula.

Qualifications

  • Docotor of Philosophy (PhD in Neuroscience), UCBL

Publications

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Available Projects

  • The ability of the motor system to undergo change, e.g. in response to learning, is strongly modulated by the context in which this learning takes place. For example motor plasticity is known to be influenced by mental imagery (imagining a movement), history of prior learning, or concentration of the 'stress hormone' cortisol. In this project, we wish to ask whether ongoing pain in a body part can influence motor plasticity of that limb, and if so, with what temporal and spatial specificity. Pain is a strong modulator of motor activity; in a chronic situation, it often leads to reduced movement. Understanding whether and how pain can modulate motor plasticity will help shed light on the early changes taking place in our motor system when we are in pain and could be used to inform rehabilitation procedures.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Journal Article

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • The ability of the motor system to undergo change, e.g. in response to learning, is strongly modulated by the context in which this learning takes place. For example motor plasticity is known to be influenced by mental imagery (imagining a movement), history of prior learning, or concentration of the 'stress hormone' cortisol. In this project, we wish to ask whether ongoing pain in a body part can influence motor plasticity of that limb, and if so, with what temporal and spatial specificity. Pain is a strong modulator of motor activity; in a chronic situation, it often leads to reduced movement. Understanding whether and how pain can modulate motor plasticity will help shed light on the early changes taking place in our motor system when we are in pain and could be used to inform rehabilitation procedures.