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Event detail

Research Seminar Series - Immersive virtual reality to reduce racial bias and improve parenting

Event information

START DATE 05 February 2020

Middlesex University Dubai, Oasis Theatre, Block 16

END DATE 05 February 2020

We are pleased to invite you to our Wednesday Research Seminar. It will be held on 5 February from 4pm, at Middlesex University Dubai in the Oasis Theatre, Block 16, Knowledge Park.

Wednesday Research Seminar Series was launched in 2008, and has featured more than 260 presentations to date. The seminars provide a forum for researchers to share their work. Presenters include faculty from Middlesex University Dubai and other universities in the United Arab Emirates, as well as researchers from other global institutions. Dr Domna Banakou will deliver seminar on:

“Immersive virtual reality to reduce racial bias and improve parenting”

Dr Domna Banakou  


My research focuses on immersive virtual reality (IVR) and how people respond to events within virtual environments. I’m attracted by the idea of simulating situations that are difficult (or impossible) to realize in physical reality, and I am especially interested in the topic of bodily representation. I focus mostly on studying transformations of the virtual bodily appearance, inspired by body ownership illusions as studied in cognitive neuroscience. My work explores the perceptual, behavioral, and higher level cognitive correlates of body ownership illusions that occur as a function of the type of body in which embodiment occurs. In this talk, I will focus on the use of embodiment techniques in IVR to bring about positive change, and specifically, to address empathy. First, I will give emphasis on the influence of owning a different race body on racial discrimination, a social phenomenon of increasing interest over the past decade. I will provide some concrete examples from the literature and present two recent studies on how implicit racial bias can be modulated in the long-term and under different social contexts. Next I will talk about how embodiment can be used to promote positive parenting, with two studies showing that embodying mothers in a child’s body improves their empathy towards their children’s needs. Last, I will bring up some ethical considerations that arise from the use of IVR related to the above topics, and I will cover briefly the current project I’m involved in at the Event Lab – MoTIVE - where we explore how IVR can be used to live through events from the past, specifically music concerts, and use these as a platform for scientific studies.


Dr Domna Banakou is a postdoctoral researcher at the Event Lab (Experimental Virtual Environments for Neuroscience and Technology) at the University of Barcelona. Dr Banakou completed her PhD in clinical psychology and psychobiology at the University of Barcelona (2017). She also holds a Master’s degree in computer graphics, vision and imaging from University College London, UK, and a Bachelor’s degree in computer science from the Ionian University, Greece. She was awarded a major three-year Spanish doctoral grant for her research, and she has won many other prizes for her academic achievements. She has collaborated with researchers internationally and first-authored research papers published in distinguished peer-reviewed journals and conferences, including two articles in PNAS and three articles in Nature Scientific Reports among others. She has given invited talks at esteemed international scientific meetings, and her research has been featured on major media channels in Spain and abroad (BBC, The New Yorker, The Psychologist), including a documentary film (BIAS). She combines technical expertise and experience in research methodologies to understand and promote the use of virtual reality in the fields of psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

We look forward to welcoming you at the seminar.

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