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Protect mental health COVID-19 study

In collaboration with Goldsmith University of London, we are conducting an online longitudinal study investigating risk and protective factors for mental health and well-being in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the study focuses on the effects of COVID-19, what we will learn would extend our understanding of how better support mental health and well-being in other circumstances characterised by a threat to life and livelihood, social isolation, rapid change, and uncertainty. This will inform public health policy on the prevention of mental illness and promotion of mental health and well-being at critical times, particularly in the context of strict social distancing or isolation. The study will survey adults globally, asking questions about one’s experiences during the lockdown, as well as during the periods of ‘new normal’.

The first survey, which takes approximately 30-40 min to complete, explores how people respond to social distancing measures introduced in many countries to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. It also contains questions about personality predispositions, predominant responses to stress and life challenges, attitudes towards oneself and others. It also collects information on meditation and other contemplative practices. Subsequent shorter surveys, which will take approximately 10-15 min to complete, will be administered monthly to monitor how participants are adjusting to the ‘new normal’ in terms of their copying strategies and emotional response.

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Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Elena Antonova - I obtained the BSc in Psychology from the University College London, UK, in 2000 and the PhD in Cognitive Psychology from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), King's Collge London, UK, in 2004. I then held a number of post-doctorate research positions at the IoPPN between 2004 and 2011, including developing virtual reality fMRI-compatible analogues of well-established animal spatial memory paradigms (Morris Water Maze and Olton Octagonal Maze) as a biomarker of hippocampal function for drug development in Alzheimer's Disease, as well as investigating the neural predictors of responsiveness to CBT for psychosis, amongst others. Following a Templeton Positive Neuroscience Award as a personal fellowship for the project investigating the effect of mindfulness on sensory information gating in expert mindfulness practitioners held between 2011-2013, I transitioned to a lecturership post at the Department of Psychology, IoPPN.   In mid-June 2019, I moved to Brunel University London to take on the position of Senior Lecturer at the Division of Psychology, Department of Life Scienes, College of Health and Life Sciences, where I aim to consolidate my existing research and education expertise, as well as develop new inter-disciplinary research directions and collaborations. I will also continue my research collaborations at the IoPPN as a Visiting Researcher. My main area of research interest and expertise is the neuroscience of mindfulness with the focus on investigating the effects of long-term mindfulness meditation practice using psychophysiology and neuroimaging methods with the application to the prevention and management of mental illness as well as promotion of mental health and wellbeing. I have been actively involved with the Mind and Life Institute since 2011 and Mind and Life Europe since 2013, organisations catalyzing inter-disciplinary scientific research into the effects of contemplative practices. In 2017 I was elected a Mind & Life Research Fellow for my contribution to contemplative science - the highest honorific recognition in my research field. The most recent research direction is a circulation between contemplative neuroscience and AI humanoid robotics towards mitigating AI risks in collaboration with Prof. Chrystopher Nehaniv and Adaptive Systems Research Group and Royal Society Wolfson Biocomputation Research Laboratory, Centre for Computer Science and Information Research, University of Hertfordshire, where I am a Visiting Senior Research Fellow.

Related Research Group(s)

Embodiment in Academic and Professional Practice

Embodiment in Academic and Professional Practice - Development of an enhanced awareness of bodies as sensors of crucial information about ourselves and our reality; Enhancing our performance as human beings, practitioners, researchers and educators.

Cognitive Neuroscience

Cognitive Neuroscience - Fundamental and applied research into brain function using techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), electromyography (EMG), eye-tracking, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS), infrared thermography together with psychophysics and cognitive behavioural paradigms in health and disease.


Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.


Project last modified 17/11/2021