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Mindstrong Health identifies digital biomarkers of cognitive function using smartphone data


mHealth Research on Men­tal Health Taps Into One’s Tap­ping Habits (mHealth Intel­li­gence):

Health­care providers look­ing to use mHealth in behav­ioral health treat­ment have long strug­gled to make the tech­nol­o­gy unob­tru­sive. But recent research sug­gests that remote mon­i­tor­ing of peo­ple with men­tal health issues could be done by ana­lyz­ing their smart­phone habits.

A recent report in the jour­nal NPJ Dig­i­tal Med­i­cine sug­gests that a smart­phone app that col­lects user activ­i­ty in the back­ground can help tele­men­tal health­care providers mea­sure that user’s dai­ly habits and detect when those habits devi­ate. By com­bin­ing those habits – called dig­i­tal bio­mark­ers – with oth­er social and envi­ron­men­tal data, providers can then iden­ti­fy when men­tal health prob­lems occur and why they hap­pen.

We believe that dig­i­tal bio­mark­ers are the foun­da­tion for mea­sure­ment-based men­tal health­care, for which there is a mas­sive unmet patient need,” Dr. Paul Dagum, the study’s lead author and founder and CEO of Mind­strong Health, said in a release. “To pro­vide bet­ter men­tal health­care, we need bet­ter ways to mea­sure cog­ni­tive func­tion and brain health that are quan­ti­ta­tive, repro­ducible, con­tin­u­ous and objec­tive.”

The tra­di­tion­al mea­sures of men­tal health are patient self-assess­ments or clin­i­cian-admin­is­tered ques­tion­naires,” added Mind­strong co-founder and Pres­i­dent Dr. Tom Insel. “They have rel­a­tive­ly low inter-rater reli­a­bil­i­ty, and don’t assess patients in real world set­tings. Mood and cog­ni­tive func­tion vary wide­ly from day to day and dur­ing the day, and are sub­ject to a range of envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors. Real-time, con­tin­u­ous, eco­log­i­cal mea­sure­ments of the kind we are iden­ti­fy­ing are key for enabling a new out­pa­tient care mod­el for men­tal health patients.”

The Study:

Dig­i­tal bio­mark­ers of cog­ni­tive func­tion (NPG Dig­i­tal Med­i­cine; opens PDF)

  • Abstract: To iden­ti­fy dig­i­tal bio­mark­ers asso­ci­at­ed with cog­ni­tive func­tion, we ana­lyzed human–computer inter­ac­tion from 7 days of smart­phone use in 27 sub­jects (ages 18–34) who received a gold stan­dard neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal assess­ment. For sev­er­al neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal con­structs (work­ing mem­o­ry, mem­o­ry, exec­u­tive func­tion, lan­guage, and intel­li­gence), we found a fam­i­ly of dig­i­tal bio­mark­ers that pre­dict­ed test scores with high cor­re­la­tions (p<10?4). These pre­lim­i­nary results sug­gest that pas­sive mea­sures from smart­phone use could be a con­tin­u­ous eco­log­i­cal sur­ro­gate for lab­o­ra­to­ry-based neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal assess­ment.

The Study in Context:

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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