Our Research

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Our research aims to build resilience in women who've been diagnosed with primary as well as secondary breast cancer. 

Using a range of neuroscientific and cognitive methods, BRiC conducts cutting edge research to reduce the psychological impact of diagnosis and treatment and boost resilience in women who've been diagnosed with breast cancer. Based on evidence that impairments in cognitive flexibility and attentional control can enhance emotional vulnerability to anxiety and depression, BRiC's research attempts to underpin neurocognitive mechanisms behind emotional vulnerability in breast cancer to then target those mechanisms through reliable training interventions shown to improv cognitive and emotional health. It is amongst BRiC's missions to examine how neurocognitive training interventions can aid in the efficacy of treatments such as mindfulness and CBT that rely on processing efficiency.

BRiC leads the research on identifying and practicing pathways to resilience in women with either a primary or secondary breast cancer diagnosis. We have shown that

1. Our cognitive health has an important role to play in our emotional health (see here)

2. Neurocognitive efficiency is impaired in women with breast cancer necessitating the need for compensatory effort contributing to cognitive deficits commonly reported (see here)

3. Simple cognitive exercises targeting cognitive efficiency can improve cognitive skills and reduce anxiety and depressive related symptoms longer term (see here; and on media page)

4. Mindfulness meditation practice and adaptive working memory training can reduce anxiety sustainably in women with breast cancer (see here)  

5. The combined effect of both good cognitive function and social support can protect against depression in secondary breast cancer (see here

6. Collateral damage from COVID19 delaying breast cancer treatment and diagnosis has increased psychological trauma in women with breast cancer (see here; and in The Telegraph)

7. Women with breast cancer experiencing threats to job security due to COVID have an increased level of depression by 26% (see here)

8. Delays in accessing breast cancer treatment in Iranian women has increased risk of clinical levels of emotional disorder with younger women at greater risk (see here)  


Our research team:

Professor Nazanin Derakshan (Head of the team) specialises in neurocognitive markers of anxiety and depressive vulnerability to develop neurocognitive interventions that promote cognitive efficiency, psychological flexibility and resilience

Professor Beth Grunfeld specialises in psycho-social oncology and the psychosocial outcomes following diagnosis and treatment (mainly among patients with benign and non-benign lesions) and on the development of interventions to support patients.

Professor Jason Moser is a clinical neuroscientist and specialises in the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying our ability to regulate cognition, emotion and behaviour, and their clinical significance in terms of their roles in the development, maintenance, and treatment of anxiety and depression. 

Dr Jessica Swainston: was a PhD student funded by the ESRC. She investigated the neurocognitive markers of cognitive function and emotional vulnerability in breast cancer. Her work examined the efficacy of neurocognitive interventions in reducing emotional vulnerability in breast cancer, independently and in combination with other more traditional methods of psychotherapy such as expressive writing and mindfulness meditation.

Dr Vida Mirabolfathi is a cognitive and clinical neuroscientist specialising in anxiety, PTSD, and depression in adults as well as adolescent vulnerable populations. She has conducted research on the collateral damage on emotional health brought about by COVID19 in Iranian women with breast cancer. She is also interested in the protective role of work in the cognitive and emotional health of Iranian women with breast cancer. 

Bethany Chapman: is a PhD student funded by the ESRC. She investigates the efficacy of neurocognitive interventions helping women with breast cancer improve their sustainability and workability in the work place. Her recent work has elucidated the collateral damage of the COVID19 outbreak on the emotional and occupational health of UK women with breast cancer.

Mo Choobin (PhD Candidate): is a computer scientist with neurocognitive expertise. He will conduct research using machine learning techniques to identify the neurocognitive pathways governing emotional vulnerability and resilience in Iranian women with breast cancer, boosting longer term emotional well-being and cognitive health. Mo's current research has highlighted the effects of COVID19 on health ramifications in Iranian women with breast cancer. 

Anna Dobretsova (past MSc student): Examining cognitive health and the role of social support in deperssive vulnerability in women with a secondary diagnosis of breast cancer. 

Samantha Shulman (past MSc student): Examining the efficacy of neurocognitive interventions on improving everyday memory and cognitive function in women with breast cancer.

Karina Dolgilevica (2021 - ): prospective PhD student funded by the ESRC. The Effects of Heart Rate Variability/Vagal Tone Increase Biofeedback Training on Long-term Improvement in Emotional and Cognitive Functioning in Women with A Breast Cancer Diagnosis.



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