Mindfulness, Neuroscience and Mental Health

Mindfulness has grown in popularity over the past 20 years. Large scale studies involving 1000’s of teenagers are now testing whether it could be a cost effective method for improving mental health in schools as a universal intervention. However, many questions remain unanswered. In particular, the mechanisms of action underlying the therapeutic effects are under-researched, and the effective parameters of mindfulness interventions have barely been researched. As such, there is currently no empirical evidence for how much mindfulness practice is required for improved mental health. The Mindfulness, Neuroscience and Mental Health Team’s aim is to use neuroscience to address these uncertainties, in order to improve the effectiveness of mindfulness at improving mental health. The team does this by examining brain activity in experienced mindfulness meditators and comparing this brain activity to healthy control individuals. In particular, we focus on brain activity related to attention, which has been proposed to be a mechanism of action of mindfulness. This approach tells us how meditation changes the brain. This information can be applied in future research to examine the effect of varying parameters of mindfulness interventions on these mechanisms, and to confirm that alterations in these mechanisms leads to the improved mental health as a result of mindfulness interventions. The team consists of PhD students, honours students, and volunteer interns, and collaborates widely across universities and industry mindfulness providers.

Group Head - Dr Neil Bailey

The goal of this research is to explain the mechanism of action by which meditation leads to improved mental health. His research also assesses measures of brain activity that predict who will respond to a brain stimulation treatment for depression, how brain activity differs between typical depression and depression that commonly follows a traumatic brain injury, and whether online mindfulness is effective at improving mental health. His long term goal is to build a case for mindfulness meditation in the core curriculums of high schools to improve mental health across society.

Find out more about Dr Neil Bailey

Higher Degree Research Students

  • Michael Wang
  • Brittany McQueen
  • Aleskandra Miljevic
  • Prabhavi Perera

Current Research Trials

Clinical Trials

Below is the list of clinical trials including a brief description, trial type and coordinator details.

Mindfulness, tACS & Pain | tACS in OCD - Tx | EEG Predictors

Mindfulness and Pain - Mechanisms, Limitations and Innovative tools to enhance mindfulness practice amongst chronic pain populations - Mindfulness, tACS & Pain

The study explores the effects of mindfulness-meditation on chronic pain, and whether the effects of mindfulness can be enhanced through non-invasive brain stimulation (transcranial alternating current stimulation). (Investigator initiated – PhD Study)

Dr Michael Wang

Therapeutic use of transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - tACS in OCD - Tx

The study is a randomised, controlled, blinded clinical trial, exploring the use of remote treatment with alpha transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) when compared to a placebo stimulation in individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). (Investigator initiated – PhD Study)

Dr Prabhavi Perera

Associations Between Individual Difference, rTMS-Induced Brain Changes and Relapse In Depression - EEG Predictors

This study will look at the rTMS-induced brain changes and cognitive performance changes that occur immediately after treatment and over a longitudinal follow-up period in individuals who have undergone rTMS treatment, to assist in identifying predictors of relapse. (Investigator initiated – PhD Study)

Aleksandra Miljevic

Experimental Trials

Below is the list of experimental trials including a brief description, trial type and coordinator details.

Meditation study | Impact of COVID-19: online surveys | ICON-DB

The neural mechanism of action of mindfulness meditation - Meditation study

To examine whether processes reflecting neural inhibition are adaptively altered to meet task requirements in healthy individuals who meditate compared to healthy non-meditators, whilst measuring neural activity during three cognitive tasks. (Investigator initiated)

Dr Neil Bailey & Brittany McQueen

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental and cognitive health - Impact of COVID-19: online surveys

The aim of this study is to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental and cognitive health examining resilience and risk factors in the general community and those who have experienced COVID 19, using online surveys. (Investigator initiated)

Dr Oscar Murphy

ICON-DB: an international collaboration examining the use of EEG in the prediction of antidepressant response to TMS - ICON-DB

This is a collaboration spanning multiple countries and major centres around the world exploring the development of EEG based tools for integration into use with rTMS therapy in depression. (Investigator initiated)

Prof Paul Fitzgerald & Dr Neil Bailey