Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory

The Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory (CNL) focuses on investigating the consequences of brain injury and disease as well as the effects of treatment and neurorehabilitation by combining advanced neuroimaging and brain stimulation techniques with wearable sensor technologies, neurocognitive assessments, and clinical measures. At CNL we also have a special interest in investigating the neural correlates of cognitive control function, sleep and fatigue. This is motivated by the transdiagnostic clinical importance of these phenomena for patient outcomes across different neurological and psychiatric conditions.

CNL is involved in a wide-range of activities in accordance with the Strategy of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), including research, education, innovation, as well as outreach and dissemination. Our research program is within the scope of the strategic research area 2014-2023 NTNU Health.  

A collaborative effort

CNL is part of a vibrant and multidisciplinary research environment consisting of local, regional, national, and international collaborators. We are working closely with several research groups at the Department of Psychology, as well as other departments at both NTNU and St. Olavs Hospital. A considerable proportion of our research activities is part of research programs affiliated with the National Competence Service for Functional MRI/Trondheim fMRI Group and Trondheim TBI Group. Nationally, we have several collaborative efforts with the Brain Injury Research Group at Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital. Internationally, we have strong collaborations with the Pediatric TBI Research Program at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Imaging Genetics Center at the University of Southern California (USC).

Our team

Alexander Olsen, ph.d.

Alexander OlsenAlexander Olsen is the head of the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory (CNL), and an Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. He is also a certified specialist in clinical neuropsychology, with a clinical position at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, St. Olavs Hospital, where he is working with neuropsychological assessments and clinical follow-up of patients with acquired brain injury. Dr. Olsen established CNL in 2016, and is currently the principal investigator in several research projects funded by Extrastiftelsen and the Liaison Committee between the Central Norway Regional Health Authority and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. He is a member of the board in the Norwegian Neuropsychological Society, and serves as a member of several advisory boards for research activities at St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim University Hospital.

Virginia Conde, Dr. rer. med.

Virginia CondeVirginia is a post-doctoral fellow at the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory (CNL), Department of Psychology, NTNU. She received her doctorate in biomedicine at the University of Leipzig (Germany) in 2013, after which she conducted postdoctoral research at the Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre from 2013 to 2017 (Denmark). During her scientific career, Virginia has focused on the neurophysiology of plastic changes in the human brain in both healthy and pathological states (brain injury, motor disorders), with a special emphasis on brain connectivity. Virginia’s main interests are to understand how neuroplasticity mechanisms arise at the network level of the human brain, as well as the role that these mechanisms play in healthy and pathological states. Moreover, she aims to study how daily-living activities such as the use of neuro-stimulants and the manipulation of sleep patterns impact neural plasticity as well as cognitive performance. At the CNL group, Virginia will focus on the interplay between brain connectivity and cognitive impairment in patients that have sustained a moderate to severe Traumatic Brain Injury, as well as on the setup of studies using combined Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Positron Emission Tomography.

Migle Karaliute, MD

Migle KaraliuteMigle Karaliute is a ph.d. candidate at the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory (CNL), Department of Psychology, NTNU. Clinically, she is working as a medical doctor at the Department of Neurology at St. Olavs Hospital. Migle achieved a degree in medicine at Vilnius University, Lithuania in 2008. After this, she completed her internship in Norway, and have continued working clinically primarily with neurological diseases. In her ph.d. project, she focuses on the recovery of symptoms after mild traumatic brain injury. In this work, she aims to delineate the natural history of post-concussive symptoms the first year after injury, how both self-reported and performance-based cognitive control function is associated with white matter organization as measured with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), as well as the effect of metacognitive therapy (MCT) on prolonged post-concussive symptoms.

Simen Berg Saksvik, MSc

Simen Berg SaksvikSimen Berg Saksvik is a ph.d. candidate at the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory (CNL), Department of Psychology, NTNU. Simen earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology and master’s degree in Neuroscience, also at NTNU. In his master’s thesis, Simen focused on neuropsychological functioning following complicated and uncomplicated mild traumatic brain injury. After completing his master’s thesis, Simen worked as a research assistant at the Department of Neuroscience, working with data collection for a large longitudinal cohort study of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) in Trondheim. In his ph.d., Simen is working with longitudinal data on sleep-wake disturbance and fatigue during the first year after mTBI. In a follow-up project, Simen is responsible for investigating sleep, fatigue and daytime activity using actigraphy methods. In this project Simen also investigates the effects of partial sleep deprivation on mTBI patients with prolonged symptoms 6-24 months after injury as compared to patients without prolonged symptoms and healthy controls. Regarding other interests, Simen likes to talk about everything from sports to the nature of consciousness.

Hanne Smevik, MSc

Hanne Smevik is a ph.d. candidate at the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory (CNL), Department of Psychology, NTNU. Hanne earned a bachelor's degree in cognitive psychology, and a master's degree in cognitive neurosicence at the University of Oslo. Scientifically, she is interested in how the brain generates consciousness and cognition through the interaction of large-scale neuronal networks, as well as the functional significance of sleep. For her master's thesis, Hanne contributed in a project at the Norwegian Center for Mental Disorders Research (NORMENT), where she studied how the hormone oxytocin affected the functional connectivity of the resting brain. In her PhD project, she will investigate how cognitive control functions are affected by partial sleep deprivation and fatigue, using functional and structural brain imaging. In addition to using brain imaging, the study will include registering the participants’ daily activity levels using actigraphy. The aim is to contribute to a better understanding of the interplay between sleep disturbance, fatigue and poor cognitive control function; symptoms that are transdiagnostic (observed in various patient groups) and often co-morbid.

John Andre Nebb Ek, Stud. Psychol.

John Andre Nebb EkJohn André Nebb Ek is a research assistant at the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory (CNL), and a graduate student at the six years integrated program in Clinical Psychology at the Department of Psychology, NTNU. He has contributed to the data collection in several projects on traumatic brain injury and has expertise in administrating neurocognitive and other psychological measures. In his work, he is passionate about learning across diverse fields of research through multidisciplinary collaboration. Moreover, he is interested in using artificial intelligence and advanced neuroimaging techniques to study the clinical and neurocognitive correlates of traumatic brain injury. In his thesis work, he focuses on generating new knowledge on this topic by utilizing the possibilities of machine learning and graph theoretical approaches.

Mailen Stople, Ma

Mailen StopleMailen Stople is a research assistant who started working at the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory (CNL) after being awarded a personal student scholarship from the Department of Psychology, NTNU. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Tromsø (UiT) in 2016, before she started her master’s studies in psychology at NTNU. During the scholarship at CNL, Mailen collected experimental data aimed to measure sleep patterns, cognitive control function, and personality traits. This work was part of a pilot study to test the utility of actigraphy and a newly available cognitive control task in a sample of healthy students, before applying the method to a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) sample. She is currently working on a manuscript about the test-retest reliability of the cognitive control task. More generally, she is interested in clinical and developmental impact on cognition.

Caroline Holberg, Stud. Psychol.

Caroline HolbergCaroline Holberg is a research assistant at the Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory (CNL), and a graduate student at the six years integrated program in Clinical Psychology at the Department of Psychology, NTNU. She has been involved in data collection in several projects on traumatic brain injury, with the intent of investigating the effect of brain injury on cognitive control. She has also contributed to the data collection in a study on sleep deprivation on cognitive control, fatigue and daytime activity. She is particularly interested in how aversive experiences and long-term stress affects health. She is currently working on her main thesis, investigating psychological contributors to chronic fatigue syndrome in adults. Caroline enjoys extreme sports and an occasional stroll. She has lived and studied in Texas, Mexico and Hawaii.

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