Dr Livia Tomova

University position

Research Associate


Department of Psychology



Home page

https://tomova.scripts.mit.edu/tomova/ (personal home page)

Research Themes

Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience

Developmental Neuroscience


I am interested in how stress, loneliness and social isolation affect the brain and mind, especially during adolescence. My PhD research in Psychology at University of Vienna (supervised by Claus Lamm) focused on the effects of acute stress on social cognition and the underlying brain processes. I then completed 3 years of postdoctoral training in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT (working with Rebecca Saxe) investigating how deprivation of social needs affects the human brain. In 2020, I was awarded a Henslow Research Fellowship at Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge (working with Sarah-Jayne Blakemore) during which I aim to identify brain markers predicting vulnerability to the effects of isolation and loneliness in adolescents and young adults. I am also interested in investigating whether and how social media can fulfill social needs.

Research Focus



social isolation




Clinical conditions

No direct clinical relevance


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)


No collaborators listed

Associated News Items

    Key publications

    Orben A*, Tomova L*, Blakemore SJ (2020), “The effects of social deprivation on adolescent development and mental health” The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health 4(8)(*joint first authors)

    Tomova, L., Saxe, R., Kloebl, M., Lanzenberger, R., Lamm, C. (2020), “Acute stress alters neural patterns of value representation for others” Neuroimage 209:116497

    Tomova, L., Wang, K. L., Thompson, T., Matthews, G. A., Takahashi, A., Tye, K. M., Saxe, R. (2020), “Acute social isolation causes midbrain craving responses similar to hunger” Nature Neuroscience 23: 1597-1605

    Tomova, L., Tye, K., Saxe, R. (in press), “The neuroscience of unmet social needs” Social Neuroscience