Infinitome Award Winners: Dr Roisin McMackin and Professor Richard Carson

Dr Roisin McMackin and Professor Richard Carson (Trinity College Dublin) have been awarded the inaugural Infinitome Imaging Award.

Sponsored by connectomics experts Omniscient Neurotechnology, the Infinitome Imaging Award was launched in 2021 to reward the very best non-invasive brain stimulation researchers with the opportunity to gain access to high-quality MRI scans of subjects and a cash prize to support study startup fees in order to harness the power of connectomics technologies.

Providing deep insights into the connections between different regions in the brain, Connectomics promises to open up new avenues for NIBS and non-invasive brain imaging research for researchers working with this pioneering technique.

For this first award, the Brainbox Initiative and Omniscient Neurotechnology were delighted to present the award to Dr Roisin McMackin and Professor Richard Carson of Trinity College Dublin for their research proposal exploring 'Premotor-Primary Motor Interhemispheric Connectivity'.

We spoke to Roisin and Richard following the presentation of the award to find out more about their plans for the project.

"I am really delighted to get this opportunity to expand upon our previous research with support from o8t Omniscient Neurotechnology and the Brainbox Initiative. We have previously looked into using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to activate movement controlling areas of the brain and measure their function. This study yielded really useful information about how we can use TMS to study these brain networks, which we believe can now be harnessed to study how devastating neurological illnesses like motor neurone disease drive movement disabilities. Unfortunately, due to funding limitations, we had to apply TMS to these brain regions based on average brain characteristics. Before applying these measurements to studying and understanding neurological diseases, we need to take account of the fact that each person’s brain is unique. When we heard about the capabilities of Infinitome to generate maps of individual people’s brain connections, Prof. Carson and I saw a great opportunity to do this," Roisin tells us.

"With this generous funding and access to the Infinitome platform, as well as access to expert support from o8t Omniscient Neurotechnology and the Brainbox Initiative, we will be able to record and analyse state of the art MRI data at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. We will measure the structural characteristics and function of connections between movement controlling areas of each individual’s brain with Infinitome, and use Infinitome to determine where exactly to apply transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to each individual in order to study movement controlling areas. By then analysing the relationship between MRI and TMS measures of these movement controlling networks, we will both improve our understanding of brain connections which drive movement and enhance our ability to test how they are affected by devastating neurological illnesses."

Professor Richard Carson expands on the details of the project, "The corpus callosum is a thick bundle of nerve fibers that connects the two cerebral hemispheres. We know that it plays a key pathophysiological role in ageing and in the early phases of neurodegenerative disease, such as motor neurone disease,  multiple sclerosis and  Huntington’s disease. Access to the Infinitome platform will provide a unique opportunity to map our stimulation based measures of callosal connectivity onto individual brain connectomes derived using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). The project exploits the stimulation techniques we developed in collaboration with Ph.D. student Glenn Calvert, and will leverage the SFI supported Siemens 3T PRISMA brain scanner, which was installed recently in the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience”.

Dr Roisin McMackin and Professor Richard Carson will receive $20,000 of funding to support the gathering of MRI data for the study; access to the Infinitome connectomics platform; and ongoing expert support from the team at Omniscient Neurotechnology and Brainbox.