Recent quotes:

Ready Patient One: Video Games as Therapy

"Basically, what we're saying is, 'Wouldn't it be therapeutic if you could be a character in a Pixar movie," he explained. "We want people to exist in a space that takes them away from an awareness of their disability and allows them to explore movement in a childlike way. Otherwise, they might not try because it's yoked to what they think is plausible in the joint space of a regular limb.

Everything big data claims to know about you could be wrong: To understand human health and behavior, researchers would do better to study individuals, not groups -- ScienceDaily

"If you want to know what individuals feel or how they become sick, you have to conduct research on individuals, not on groups," said study lead author Aaron Fisher, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley. "Diseases, mental disorders, emotions, and behaviors are expressed within individual people, over time. A snapshot of many people at one moment in time can't capture these phenomena." Moreover, the consequences of continuing to rely on group data in the medical, social and behavioral sciences include misdiagnoses, prescribing the wrong treatments and generally perpetuating scientific theory and experimentation that is not properly calibrated to the differences between individuals, Fisher said.

Joyable for Anxiety

This San Francisco startup, which bills itself as the leading online solution for overcoming social anxiety, wants to help those who are time-strapped. The Joyable app offers brief, five-to-ten minute activities for users, ranging from checking in with your feelings at any given moment and examining 'personal values.' Individual plans cost $99 per month, and typically involve eight-to-twelve weeks of guided therapy, including check-ins with a regular coach. The activities are modeled after a psychotherapy method called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, a heavily researched and widely-respected field. Joyable, which launched in 2013, has raised more than $15 million in funding and claims to have reached more than 500,000 users.

Risk of Burnout Can Be Estimated by Analyzing Saliva Samples - Neuroscience News

According to the researchers, compared with the previously used early-morning samples – taken three times after waking at fifteen-minute intervals – the midday and evening saliva samples also provided a much better and more reliable result: “Our current data indicate that people at risk of burnout can be identified from a single saliva sample with almost 100% accuracy, whereas the multiple early-morning sampling involved more laborious methods and produced a much larger range of variation.” Reliable analysis is now possible just four hours after providing the sample and this method even produced better results than analysing stress-related blood parameters. “We will use these results to further reinforce our efforts to prevent stress-related illnesses in collaboration with the stress clinic of the KFA Health and Prevention Center.

Virtual Reality Shows Promise in Treating Eating Disorders | Healthcare Analytics News

“The virtual environment makes it possible to control the unexpected and to be exposed in a safe environment to certain fears that may be difficult to reproduce in real situations,” Peran said in an email. In the future, Peran said, it could be helpful to integrate other senses into treatment, like smell and taste. But right now, the main limitation is that many therapists and physicians simply aren’t trained in using VR. The equipment itself often isn’t cheap, as well. (The cheapest major headset on the market, Google’s Daydream kit, retails for about $99). Patients also may have to deal with “simulation sickness.”   Still, the paper noted that direct studies of VR on eating disorders are few and far between. The paper used data from several clinical trials with a single patient, along with others that examined just a handful. It seems that VR-therapy is still in its infancy—just isolated physicians with the means and expertise giving it a shot on willing patients. Still, the paper notes those isolated trials show signs of progress. The paper found that most researchers focused on exposing users to food stimuli or their own body image, in a controlled format. The authors present VR as a compliment to CBT, the traditional method of therapy that treats anorexia nervosa and bulimia, allowing therapists to work on patients’ response to stimuli (like looking in the mirror or being exposed to food) in a virtual environment, and then apply CBT techniques to help break down their negative body images and anxieties.

Towards an unconscious neural reinforcement intervention for common fears -- ScienceDaily

That is, these researchers can tell if a participant's brain is 'unconsciously' thinking of a snake (which happens every now and then without our awareness), based on images acquired using conventional fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging, a measurement available in many hospitals). By giving the participant a small amount of monetary reward whenever this happens, the snake is thus associated with a positive feeling, thereby eventually becomes less frightening and unpleasant.

Analysis shows wearable data could help identify mental health conditions in diabetic populations | MobiHealthNews

Kumar said that individuals with mental health illnesses (MHI) are also at a higher risk for developing diabetes than those without. This is because MHI is associated with unhealthy eating habits, less physical activity and a potential increase in weight.  The analysis, which was complied by using data from general Achievement use, found that diabetes patients that self-reported symptoms of MHI walk on average 1,469 steps less per day than those without MHI symptoms. The mean daily steps taken by diabetes patients with no MHI symptoms was 7,032, compared to patients with MHI symptoms who walked 5,663 steps a day.  Participants with MHI symptoms had a lower frequency of days with high activity levels and more frequent days with lower activity levels than their counterparts without MHI symptoms. There was little difference in sleep between the two groups; patients with MHI symptoms slept an average of 6.48 hours and those with MHI symptoms slept an average of 6.72 hours.  The analysis looked at survey results from 1,330 participants with diabetes. Three hundred and thirty-six or 25.3 percent reported having some MHI in the last year. Of that 77 percent reported having anxiety symptoms and 23.7 percent reported having some form of depression.

Is soda bad for your brain? (And is diet soda worse?): Both sugary, diet drinks correlated with accelerated brain aging -- ScienceDaily

Now, new research suggests that excess sugar -- especially the fructose in sugary drinks -- might damage your brain. Researchers using data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) found that people who drink sugary beverages frequently are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus -- an area of the brain important for learning and memory. But before you chuck your sweet tea and reach for a diet soda, there's more: a follow-up study found that people who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not.

FitBit's new sleep tracker is pretty darn cool

imagine what we’ll learn as warehouses worth of enhanced sleep data like get integrated into drug trials, therapy, physical exams, coaching, research and even education.

Bipolar disorder: New method predicts who will respond to lithium therapy -- ScienceDaily

Wondering whether the differences could be predictive, the team trained a computer program to recognize the variations between the profiles of responders and nonresponders using the firing patterns of 450 total neurons over six independent training rounds. In each round, they started fresh with the neurons of five of the patients to train the system. They then tested the system with the neurons of the sixth patient, whose lithium status was known to the team but not to the program. They repeated the process five more times, which allowed them to build essentially six independent models. Each model was trained on the data from five out of the six patients, leaving a different patient out of the training data each time, and then letting the model classify this remaining patient as a responder or nonresponder. Using the firing patterns of just five of any patient's neurons, the system identified the person as a responder or nonresponder with 92 percent accuracy.

A Test That Finds the Perfect Drug? - The Atlantic

Brain Resource, meanwhile, gives depression patients an online test that gauges memory, self-regulation, and emotion. Their responses are then compared against a database that contains the results of 1,000 individuals who took the same test. The thinking is that patients who score similarly will be helped by similar drugs. Currently, Brain Resource evaluates a patient’s likely response to three common depression drugs, which are sold under the brand names Lexapro, Zoloft, and Effexor. The online test takes 40 minutes, and according to Brain Resource’s founders, the results are available within two minutes. (The test is currently awaiting FDA approval.)

Computational Neuroscience Approach to Biomarkers and Treatments for Mental Disorders. - PubMed - NCBI

For many disorders, the reported accuracies have reached 90% or more. However, we note that rigorous tests on independent cohorts are critically required to translate this research into clinical applications. Finally, we discuss the utility of the disorder-specific features found by the data-driven approach to psychiatric therapies, including neurofeedback. Such developments will allow simultaneous diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders using neuroimaging, thereby establishing "theranostics" for the first time in clinical psychiatry.