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Research

2011 – ongoing

Neurocognitive mechanisms of Mindfulness

Series of research studies investigating how mindfulness practice shapes neurocognitive systems of attention, emotion regulation and conceptual processing in relation to well-being. This research involves longitudinal, cross-sectional and dispositional mindfulness studies with healthy young adults to build up evidence base on neurocognitive markers of mindfulness practice.

Most of the studies use event-related brain potential methodology in combination with self-report measures and eye-tracking or heart-rate variability measures in some projects. We have been building on results of these studies in the development of research projects on mindfulness with children, adolescents and the aging population.

2012 – ongoing

Evidence-based Strategy for Implementation of Mindfulness into Welsh education

There is increasing interest in implementing mindfulness training in schools as a way to slow down the trend of high levels of mental health problems and low well-being in the young population. Positive effects of mindfulness on well-being are well-documented in adults, with encouraging initial findings in children and adolescents. Mindfulness training has the potential of enhancing both teacher and pupil well-being through development of new stress management skills in teachers, and acquisition of healthy mental habits together with skilful strategies to manage challenging experience in pupils.

For this potential to translate into practice we need both rigour in development of mindfulness programmes for schools and rigour in their evaluation to inform implementation of mindfulness into education. We are contributing to this need for solid evidence-base through research projects assessing the impact of mindfulness training in both primary and secondary schools with the focus on well-being, self-regulation, emotion regulation and metacognition of pupils and well-being of school teachers. We have piloted a sustainable and cost-effective implementation model where school teachers are first trained in mindfulness, then trained in the mindfulness curriculum delivery to their pupils and supported long-term in development of their own mindfulness practice.

2012 - 2015

Psychophysiological investigation of mindfulness training in secondary schools: Modifications in emotion regulation and cognitive control in adolescents practicing mindfulness

Ph.D. scholarship provided by ESRC Wales Doctoral Traning Center with a contribution from the CMRP

Kevanne Sanger (Ph.D. student) supervised by Dr. Dusana Dorjee

The aim of this Ph.D. project was to investigate the impact of an expanded version of the .b mindfulness programme for secondary schools both from a neuroscientific research perspective (examining neurocognitive mechanisms) combined with an applied outcomes-focused perspective. The study focused on sixth-form pupils (16-17 year olds) and the programme was delivered by school teachers trained in mindfulness and in the delivery of the .b training. Specifically, the research has (1) systematically examined effects of mindfulness training on psychophysiological markers of emotion regulation and cognitive control; (2) investigated the relationship between these psychophysiological markers and changes in self-reported wellbeing.

Two articles reporting on the findings of this project are currently under review.

2013 - 2016

Neurocognitive evaluation of mindfulness training in primary schools

Ph.D. Scholarship provided by ESRC Wales Doctoral Traning Centre, School of Psychology, Bangor University and the CMRP

Rebekah Kaunhoven (Ph.D. student) supervised by Dr. Dusana Dorjee

This longitudinal non-randomised controlled study builds on our previous findings and advances further our research on mindfulness in primary school education in the fast growing field of cognitive neuroscience of mindfulness. The Ph.D. project investigates the impact of mindfulness on the cognitive and neural systems of attention control and emotion regulation from the neuro-developmental perspective. The project combines electrophysiological (event-related brain potentials), heart-rate variability and self-report measures.

2014 - 2017

Investigating the Potential Effects of Mindfulness Training on Neurocognitive Markers of Dementia

Shelby DeMeulenaere (Ph.D. student) supervised by Dr. Dusana Dorjee

This project aims to investigate the impact of adapted mindfulness training on markers of dementia. The study will utilise multiple imaging modalities to understand potential changes in neurocognitive mechanisms of dementia and well-being in older adults.

2015-2016

Impact of Mindfulness training on well-being of teachers, their pupils and parents in disadvantaged areas

Widening Access Centre grant awarded to Dr. Dusana Dorjee

The aim of this feasibility pilot study is to evaluate whether mindfulness training is acceptable and can be beneficial for well-being of children, teachers and parents in a disadvantaged area.

Completed projects

2013-2014

Mindfulness training in primary schools: Pilot neurocognitive evaluation

British Academy Small grant awarded to Dr. Dusana Dorjee (PI) and Professor Guillaume Thiery (Co-PI)

This pilot project provided initial evidence on effectiveness of a mindfulness programme called Paws b in primary schools. The school teachers were trained in mindfulness first, then in the curriculum which they consequently delivered to their pupils. Questionnaire-based evaluations of mindfulness and well-being were conducted before and after completion of pupil training and teacher training, and compared to assessments from a comparison school not receiving the intervention (only after research assessments were completed).

Neurocognitive evaluations conducted with pupils using a portable EEG (brain wave) system focused on changes in emotion regulation and attention control in relation to self-report data on mindfulness and well-being. Three articles reporting on the findings from this study are currently under review.

2013 – 2014

Meditation, concepts and de-reification: Investigation of possible links between contemplative and neurocognitive perspectives

Mind and Life Contemplative Studies Fellowship awarded to Dr. Dusana Dorjee

This project was a theoretical and experimental pilot investigation of the impact of contemplative practices on concepts — the fundamental building blocks of cognition. The research project aimed to:

  1. Examine the notion of de-reification from the perspectives of theory and practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of Dzogchen and explore possible links to self-report and neurocognitive assessments of de-reification.
  2. Investigate the feasibility of experimental neurocognitive research into de-reification in a pilot study using self-report, behavioural and event-related brain potential markers of conceptual processing.

2014

Investigating the potential of mindfulness training in dementia prevention: A longitudinal neurocognitive study

NEURODEM Cymru R&D grant, Dr. Dusana Dorjee, Dr. Paul Mullins, Prof. Bob Woods

The project investigated links between mindfulness as a trait, perceived stress, neurocognitive markers of dementia risk and executive control.

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