The MYRIAD project – free legacy resources now available to download
Free online resources for young people to learn about the teenage brain and psychological research. Designed by researchers from the University of Oxford’s MYRIAD (My resilience in adolescence) project these resources are suitable for young people aged 9-18 at school, in clubs and learning from home.
The MYRIAD project is investigating different themes based around a central hypothesis:
“Does mindfulness training in adolescence have the potential to shift the population away from psychological problems by addressing key processes of mental regulation that operate across the spectrum from risk to resilience?”
The project is based on the knowledge that adolescence is a vulnerable time for the onset of mental illness: 75% of mental disorders begin before the age of 24, and half by age 15 (Kessler et al., 2005).
“By promoting good mental health and intervening early, particularly in the crucial childhood and teenage years, we can help to prevent mental illness from developing and mitigate its effects when it does.” (Department of Health, 2011).
There are three themes within the project:
Theme 1: Examine the socio-cognitive-affective impact and mechanisms of Mindfulness. This theme examines the impact on executive control in typically developing adolescents. Researchers observed how mindfulness effects processing of thoughts and feelings and whether there are different effects at different stages of development. Researchers examined effects among those with poor and good mental health.
Theme 2: Implementation of a Mindfulness curriculum. This theme aimed to discover the best way to train teachers to deliver a mindfulness curriculum and how to implement it in schools.
Theme 3: Mindfulness in schools: effectiveness, cost effectiveness and mechanisms. A randomised control trial comparing existing, good quality social and emotional learning that is already being taught in schools (known as ‘teaching as usual’) to a programme of study that is based on mindfulness techniques.
Researchers from Theme 3 created these resources using a public engagement grant from Wellcome which include the “Do nothing” campaign and website, designed to inspire interest and awareness of mindfulness in young people. The University of Oxford Mindfulness Centre is proud to have been involved in the development and launch of the donothing website.
The live workshop was run by MYRIAD researchers and toured schools and science festivals, giving over a thousand students a chance to try out some of the experiments undertaken in the project and learn more about the adolescent brain. This workshop included a basic explanation of the anatomy of the brain and activity stations where students could try different psychological tools that measure traits that change in adolescence such as risk-taking, judging emotions, concentration when distracted and delayed gratification. One (literally) massive part of this workshop was the giant inflatable brain, which allowed students to take a tour of the brain from the inside out!
The workshop covered how the various tools are used in real-life research as well as in the MYRIAD project and what the findings might be able to tell us about the adolescent brain. During the workshop, the researchers worked with small groups of pupils to highlight the different parts of the brain that are activated in each psychological test. Students were supported to explore the following questions:
What makes the teenage brain different?
How does brain development affect behaviour?
How do researchers find out how the brain works?
From this interactive workshop, the MYRIAD team have created a lasting set of legacy resources that continue to reach young people, helping them begin to examine these questions with their peers, teacher, workshop leaders or parents.
“An engaging set of activities to allow students to experience how their brains work and start to think about scientific research.”
The Teenage Brain resources aim to shed light on this crucial period of life. The activities are designed to spark debate and discussion between young people, peers, teachers and families, to help people learn more about how the brain works. You can learn more and access the resources here: http://myriadproject.org/public-engagement/
The MYRIAD project invited young people to identify and prioritise the research questions that are most important to them and researchers then gathered the answers.
During the research trial young people suggested nearly 800 individual questions covering a range of topics, such as the impact of homework and social media on wellbeing through to understanding how young people nurture and develop healthy friendships in the digital age.
These questions were then developed into viable research questions. Over 2000 young people then voted on which questions they would like to be included in the research and the fifteen most popular questions were included in the questionnaire.
Anonymised data from the selected questions were collected from study participants and have been packaged to give to schools and young people. The data and associated resources have been packaged for schools as MYPAD (MYRIAD Young People’s Analysis of Data). The MYPAD resources are built around a unique research questionnaire co-designed by young people. Over 5000 responses were collected providing data on wellbeing issues that are important to young people. This unique data set and supporting materials can be used by teachers and students studying psychology, sociology, statistics, individual research projects and more. This schools resource supports young people in conducting their own research projects, from identifying research questions to analysing data through to sharing their findings.