Dr Cathy Stinear
Centre for Brain Research, University of Auckland
Clinical neuroscientist, Centre for Brain Research, University of Auckland
Deputy Director, Brain Recovery Clinic, University of Auckland
Dr Cathy Stinear is a clinical neuroscientist at the Centre for Brain Research, working with many leading scientists and clinicians including the Neurological Foundation Chair of Clinical Neurology, Professor Alan Barber. Her research activities focus on translating discoveries in neuroscience into clinical practice. Dr Stinear is an expert in movement neuroscience, and uses a range of neurophysiological and imaging techniques to study how the brain controls movement in both health and disease.
Dr Stinear’s doctoral studies investigated the processes involved in focal hand dystonia, a rare movement disorder more commonly known as ‘writer’s cramp’ or ‘musician’s cramp’. This work received a Best Doctoral Thesis Award from the University of Auckland.
Since completing her doctorate in 2004, she has turned her attention to the neural mechanisms of recovery after stroke. By studying how the brain adapts to, or compensates for, the structural and functional disruptions caused by stroke, her team has been able to identify opportunities to enhance the recovery process. She is currently investigating a range of techniques for promoting neural plasticity, which is a change in the number or strength of connections between brain cells. Neural plasticity is thought to be responsible for much of the recovery of movement, communication and other functions after stroke. Dr Stinear's current studies are testing whether non-invasive brain stimulation, drug treatments, and coordinated movement patterns can promote plasticity in healthy adults, and recovery of function in people who have experienced stroke. Dr Stinear is also developing clinical methods so these techniques can be optimised for individual patients. This work has been published in Lancet Neurology, and has generated a great deal of media interest.
Dr Stinear is Deputy Director of the Brain Recovery Clinic, and Academic Coordinator of the Research Volunteer Register at the Centre for Brain Research, University of Auckland. Since 2007 Dr Stinear has served on a Scientific Assessing Committee for the Health Research Council, and has been a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Neurological Foundation. She is an Associate Editor for the journal Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, and is frequently called upon by editors of neuroscience and neurology journals to provide reviews.
Dr Stinear works closely with the media liaison team at the Foundation and is regularly interviewed by the media for research perspectives on stroke prevention and recovery.