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Dr. Sabina Brennan

Visiting Research Fellow (ADAPT)


Sabina Brennan is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the ADAPT Centre in Trinity College Dublin where she is a principal investigator in E-Health. Prior to this she was a research assistant professor at the School of Psychology and a principal investigator at the Institute of Neuroscience. She was co-director of the NEIL Research Programme and director of the NEIL Memory Research Unit which profiles cognitive function in a cohort of ~1000 Irish adults aged 50 and over. Understanding differential decline in cognitive ageing and dementia, cognitive reserve, brain health, modifiable risk and protective factors and the development of interventions to prevent or delay the onset of decline, She was a member of the applicant team that secured the biggest philanthropic grant (138 million) in Irish history She coordinated ASAPS, an FP7 Project under the 2012-HEALTH-2012 which promoted brain health and brain research outputs of this project include a website ( a series of films and a brain health app She is principal Investigator on a US funded 2-year project aimed at assessing the Impact of relationship-based mealtime intervention on quality of life, cognitive function, social connection, mood, BMI, and walking speed. She is also a principle investigator on a 3-year cohort study, DeStress looking at Cognitive function, caregiver stress and cortisol: Mechanisms and implications for prevention of adverse health consequences in spouse dementia caregivers. funded by the Medical Research Charities Group and the Health Research Board. She is Principle Investigator on a project that developed a series of 10 films ( aimed at addressing fears about memory loss and dementia. She has co-supervisor PhD students investigating Protective Effect of Cognitive Reserve against Cognitive Impairment (IRCHSS), a second PhD, looking at the relationship between caregiver stress and frailty and indices of cognitive decline, (IRC Enterprise Partnership scheme and third investigating the relationship between age-related hearing loss and cognitive decline. Her own PhD thesis entitled 'Neurocognitive and Electrophysiological Indices of Cognitive Performance in Ageing' explored individual differences in cognitive performance in healthy elderly and aimed to identify neurocognitive and electrophysiological markers that index cognitive decline. As part of the TCIN-GSK Neurodegeneration Programme she was responsible for a research project aimed at identifying novel cognitive, electrophysiological and behavioural endpoints in human participants that offer greater sensitivity to age-induced cognitive changes than previous endpoints.
 PPI-Ignite - Trinity College Dublin
 No Pressure
 Brain Health for MS
 Caring for Carers - DeStress

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Details Date
Advisor on Brain Health and Active and Healthy Ageing - 2018
Multi-disciplinary Expert Group on Migraine - Novartis International 2018
Medical and Scientific Advisory Panel - The Alzheimer Society of Ireland 2014 to date
Advocacy Committee - The Alzheimer Society of Ireland 2017
National Advisory Committee - SAGE - Support and Advocacy Service for Older Adults 2016 - 2017
Expert Reference Group Dementia Friendly Ireland - Health Service Executive 2016 - 2017
Expert Panel Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative - Dept. of Health 2017
Advisory Board ERC Science Squared 2016 - 2018
Scientific Advisory Board TarGear 2014 - 2016
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
English Fluent Fluent Fluent
Details Date From Date To
Psychological Society of Ireland 2017
O'Sullivan, M., Lawlor, B., Hannigan, C., Brennan, S., Robertson, IH. , Cognitive functioning among cognitively intact dementia caregivers compared to matched self-selected and population controls., Aging & Mental Health (CAMH), 2018, Notes: [], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
Wolfe H, Hannigan C, O'Sulivan M, Carrol, LB, Brennan S, Lawlor, R, Robertson, IH, Lynch, M, A shift to glycolysis accompanies the inflammatory changes in PBMCs from Individuals with an IQ-discrepant memory, Journal of Neuroimmunology, 317, 2018, p24 - 31, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
McHugh-Power, JE. Hannigan, C., Hyland, P Kee, F, Brennan, S, Lawlor, B, Depressive symptoms predict increased social and emotional loneliness in older adults. , Ageing and Mental Health (CAMH) , 2018, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Pertl, M.M., Hannigan, C., Brennan, S., Robertson I.H., Lawlor, B.A., Cognitive reserve and self-efficacy as moderators of the effect of stress exposure on executive functioning among spousal dementia caregivers, International Journal of Psychogeriatrics. , 29, (4), 2017, p615 - 625, Notes: [], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Loughrey, DG., Lavecchia, S., Brennan, S., Lawlor, BA., and Kelly, ME. , The Impact of the Mediterranean Diet on Cognitive Functioning of Healthy Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis., Advances in nutrition, 8, (4), 2017, p571 - 586, Notes: [doi: 10.3945/an.117.015495], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
Kelly, ME., Duff, H., Kelly, S., Power, JE, Brennan, S., Lawlor, BA., Loughrey., D. , The impact of social activities, social networks, social support and social relationships on the cognitive functioning of healthy older adults: a systematic review. , Systematic Reviews, 6, (29), 2017, p259 - 277, Notes: [], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
Loughrey, D., Kelly, ME., Kelley, G., Brennan, S., Lawlor, BA. , The Association of Age-Related Hearing Loss with Cognitive Function, Cognitive Impairment and Dementia: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis, JAMA Otolaryngology - Head and, 2017, Notes: [doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2017.2513], Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
Kelly, ME., Lawlor, BA., Coen, RF., Robertson, IH. and Brennan, S, Cognitive rehabilitation for early stage Alzheimer's disease: a pilot study with an Irish population., Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine., 2017, p1 - 17, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
Power J., Lee O., Aspell N., McCormack E., Loftus M., Connolly L., Lawlor B., Brennan S., RelAte: Pilot study of the effects of a mealtime intervention on social cognitive factors and energy intake among older adults living alone, British Journal of Nutrition, 116, (9), 2016, p1573-1581 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
McHugh Power, J.E., Carney, S., Hannigan, C., Brennan, S., Wolfe, H., Lynch, M., Kee, F. and Lawlor, B.A., , Systemic inflammatory markers and sources of social support among older adults in the Memory Research Unit cohort, Journal of Health Psychology, 2016, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL

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Brennan, S., Dockree, P., Sobolowski, R. and Robertson, I.H. , Contribution of alpha to memory failures in healthy elderly. Neuroscience Ireland Conference Presentation,, IRCSET Symposium, Dublin, 25 September, 2009, Oral Presentation, PUBLISHED


Award Date
Provost Award in recognition of Innovation for Social Impact 2017
Finalist US-Ireland Research Innovation Awards - RIA and American Chamber of Commerce 2017
Outstanding Contribution to STEM Communications - Science Foundation Ireland 2016
Champion of Research (Leadership of a Seventh Framework Project) 2012
Government of Ireland Research Scholarship - Irish Research Council of Science Engineering and Technology - Embark Initiative 2007 - 2010
W.J. Smyth Prize for Best Performance in BA (Hons) Psychology 2007
Carmel Staunton Prize for Best Final Year Research Project 2007
First Prize Second Arts 2006
First Prize Second Year Psychology 2006
First Prize First Year Psychology 2005
Brain Health. Understanding dementia risk and protective factors. Development and evaluation of online educational materials to improve health literacy and health behaviour.