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Mindstrong Health identifies digital biomarkers of cognitive function using smartphone data

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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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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Health & Wellness, Technology

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