Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


On Mental Health and the advent of Digital Phenotyping


Build­ing the Ther­mome­ter for Men­tal Health (The Dana Foun­da­tion):

Imag­ine that you vis­it your physi­cian com­plain­ing of a fever and, rather than tak­ing out a ther­mome­ter, they begin hov­er­ing their “edu­cat­ed hands” over you. Grad­u­al­ly, they press down against your arm to gain a full impres­sion of your skin’s tem­per­a­ture and the “deep­er seat­ed com­bus­tions.” Remov­ing their hand, they look close­ly at your appear­ance and pro­nounce their assess­ment: you do, in fact, have a fever. You might (jus­ti­fi­ably) be dubi­ous

Just as the ther­mome­ter pro­vid­ed a stan­dard­ized, objec­tive mea­sure­ment for detect­ing fever, tools to quan­ti­fy health and dis­ease para­me­ters have trans­formed med­i­cine in almost every major dis­ease area—electrocardiograms for heart dis­ease, blood glu­cose for dia­betes, and, recent­ly, genet­ic diag­nos­tic tests for can­cer. But when it comes to brain health, and in the case of men­tal ill­ness espe­cial­ly, progress has been uneven. Although direct brain imag­ing instru­ments exist, most (MRI, PET, MEG) are expen­sive, inac­ces­si­ble to many, rarely use­ful for decid­ing the treat­ment of an indi­vid­ual patient, and time-inten­sive to admin­is­ter. While they can iden­ti­fy brain lesions in mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis or demen­tia, they are less use­ful in men­tal dis­or­ders. This lack of mea­sure­ment mat­ters because, to bor­row a tru­ism from busi­ness, “we don’t man­age well what we don’t mea­sure well.”

Keep read­ing Build­ing the Ther­mome­ter for Men­tal Health over at The Dana Foun­da­tion.

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