Laura Bird awarded the CEO's Award for Clinical Research

Recent MSPS graduate Laura Bird has been awarded the CEO's Award for Clinical Research at the Austin ResearchFest 2019.

This award is intended for early career researchers in health or medical research and demonstrates the impact of Laura’s research on health outcomes.  Laura’s PhD research explored the potential mechanisms underpinning music training-related ‘neuroprotection’. This included literature analysis of music and non-music functions in non-musicians and musicians with various brain disorders, a group study investigating music and non-music functions in focal epilepsy, and a case study reporting unique preservation of music (but not verbal) memory in a musician with bilateral temporal lobe epilepsy.

Together, this work illustrated the relatively frequent impairment of some cognitive and music functions in non-musicians with epilepsy. Musicians with epilepsy more often displayed preserved music and non-music functions. However, musicians with other brain disorders such as stroke or dementia displayed more widespread patterns of impairment, suggesting that music training might not provide the same protection for music and non-music functions in patients with sudden acute brain injury or neurodegenerative diseases. These findings shed light on the unique and specific interactions between epilepsy-related and training-related processes in the brain, and raise the possibility of a therapeutic application of music for cognitive rehabilitation in patients with epilepsy. This research also has broader implications for music education policy, emphasising the importance of early and affordable access to music within schools.

ResearchFest celebrates the research undertaken at Austin LifeSciences and highlights the breadth and excellence of our research. It is an opportunity to learn what others are doing, to facilitate new research collaborations, and to encourage new students and junior researchers to undertake a research career at Austin LifeSciences.

The ResearchFest program is full of interesting lunchtime lectures, symposia and fora giving both early career and experienced researchers the opportunity to share enthusiasm for research.