Scientific research

Several research projects are already running and collaborate with RUSI.


Sleep deprivation, metacognitive/cognitive processes and workload

High levels of workload may place demands on pilots/ATC operators and other shift workers that exceed the existing cognitive capacity to deal with a task. This may further result in an increased risk of making errors. It is important to better understand how sleep deprivation may affect the task demand-capacity link and to what extent an individual can use metacognitive abilities to monitor when his/her capacity is no longer sufficient to deal with a particular task. The aim of this study is to better understand how sleep deprivation and recovery sleep may affect cognitive performance under varying levels of workload and the role of mediating factors such as metacognition, physiological reactivity, and lifestyle.

Leader: Kamilla Rún Jóhannsdóttir, associate professor at RU.


Systematic Light exposure to Prevent/Treat Aversive Side Effects in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Breast Cancer Treatment

Severe fatigue, depression, sleep and cognitive problems are the most commonly reported side effects of cancer treatment. These aversive side effects are hypothesized to be related to the disruption of circadian rhythms associated with cancer and its treatment. Exposure to light has been found to synchronize the circadian activity rhythms but the work with cancer patients has been scarce. Therefore, a randomized control trial (RCT) is being conducted to test if different systematic light exposure (sLE) will prevent overall levels of cancer-related fatigue (CRF), depression, sleep and cognitive function from worsening among breast cancer patients undergoing breast cancer treatment (e.g., surgery, chemotherapy). sLE incorporates the delivery of harmless UV-protected light delivered to patients by using glasses for 30 minutes each morning, during their treatment. Patients can engage in routine morning activities while undergoing sLE (e.g., read the paper, eat breakfast). This RCT will 1) investigate the effects of light on CRF, sleep, depression, cognition, circadian rhythms and inflammation markers among patients undergoing breast cancer treatment; and 2) address possible mediators and moderators. The RCT could have major public health relevance as it will determine if an easy-to-deliver, inexpensive, and low patient burden intervention reduces common side effects (e.g., CRF, depression, cognitive impairment) of cancer treatment (e.g., surgery, chemotherapy).

This research is done in close co-operation with researchers and staff at the National University Hospital of Iceland (Landspítali-Háskólasjúkrahús) as well as with research teams in USA, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Leader: Heiðdís B. Valdimarsdóttir professor and Birna Baldursdóttir assistant professor at RU, Department of Psychology


The BATNA project

This study is a part of the BATNA collaboration project between the Reykjavík University, Sport Sciences Department, Physical Activity, Physical Education, Health and Sport Research Centre (PAPESH) and Íþróttabandalag Reykjavíkur (ÍBR). The objective of the study is to gain knowledge of health-related issues and musculoskeletal problems in athletes in Reykjavík so that prevention activities can be done effectively and these issues minimized. The athlete’s health will be evaluated from a variety of perspectives in order to gain the most comprehensive knowledge of the subject. Factors that will be evaluated are mental health such as depression and anxiety, sleep hygiene, nutrition, overuse injuries, and other health problems.

Leaders: Jose M. Saavedra professor and Margrét Lilja Guðmundsdóttir lecturer at RU, Department of Sport Science