Visiting Assistant Professor of Practice of Interactive Media
Education: BSc Ionian University; MSc University College London; PhD Universitat de Barcelona
Research Areas: immersive virtual reality; embodiment; body ownership illusions; empathy; prosocial behavior; mental health; cognitive neuroscience; psychology
Dr. Domna Banakou completed her PhD in clinical psychology and psychobiology at the University of Barcelona. She also holds an MSc degree in computer graphics, vision, and imaging from University College London, UK, and a bachelor’s degree in computer science with a specialization in Arts and Humanities 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 other articles in Nature Scientific Reports, Current Directions in Psychological Science, and Royal Society Open Science, among others. She has given invited talks at esteemed international scientific meetings. Her research has been featured on major media channels (BBC, The New Yorker, The Psychologist), including a documentary film (BIAS).
Dr. Banakou 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. Her research focuses on how people respond to events within virtual environments, with a special interest in the topic of bodily representation. She studies how transformations of the virtual bodily appearance, inspired by body ownership illusions as studied in cognitive neuroscience, lead to perceptual, behavioral, and higher-level cognitive correlates. She has explored, among others, how embodiment over virtual bodies distinct to one’s own can lead to positive behavioral change and promote prosocial attitudes, with emphasis given on the influence of owning a different race body on racial discrimination.