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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Verily and LivaNova accelerate efforts to detect and treat depression


Heads-up about a cou­ple fas­ci­nat­ing devel­op­ments over the last few weeks.

1) Verily’s Bold New Project Aims to Pre­dict Depres­sion Using Your Phone (Sin­gu­lar­i­ty­Hub):

Depres­sion is a shift­ing, amor­phous beast that silent­ly haunts mil­lions. It’s also dif­fi­cult to pin­point.

Psy­chi­a­try has for­mu­lat­ed well-test­ed ques­tion­naires to diag­nose depres­sion. But these tests require patients to reach out and only pro­vide snap­shots of their dis­or­der in time … To Sil­i­con Val­ley, the answer to solv­ing depres­sion is data. After all, most anti-depres­sant tri­als only recruit up to thou­sands of peo­ple. With dig­i­tal health, any­one with a wrist wear­able or smart­phone could poten­tial­ly con­tribute in the largest stud­ies ever attempt­ed by mankind. And if depres­sive symp­toms cor­re­late in any way to a “dig­i­tal fin­ger print”—how some­one phys­i­cal­ly inter­acts with their smart­phone, for example—these mas­sive stud­ies, com­bined with AI and sheer com­put­ing pow­er, have the abil­i­ty to find out.

The vision isn’t fan­ta­sy. Last month, Google’s for­mer health­care divi­sion, Ver­i­ly, announced a new study seek­ing par­tic­i­pants to help trans­form your smart­phone into a mood pre­dic­tor. The ini­tia­tive is part of Verily’s Project Base­line, which aims to con­struct a “Google Earth”-esque birds-eye view of human biol­o­gy in health and dis­ease. If all goes as planned, the Mood Study could uncov­er “more objec­tive mea­sures of depres­sion” using smart­phone data from thou­sands of peo­ple alone.”

2) LivaNo­va loops Ver­i­ly into depres­sion device study (MedTech­Dive):

  • As part of an ongo­ing clin­i­cal tri­al of its implant­ed vagus nerve stim­u­la­tion (VNS) sys­tem in peo­ple with hard-to-treat depres­sion, LivaNo­va is part­ner­ing with Ver­i­ly to offer a wear­able device and mobile app meant to help gath­er addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion on study par­tic­i­pants’ behav­ior.
  • Using tech­nol­o­gy and ana­lyt­ics devel­oped by Google-par­ent Alpha­bet’s life sci­ences research orga­ni­za­tion, the goal is to “fur­ther under­stand depres­sive episodes and a patient’s response to treat­ment,” LivaNo­va said in the announce­ment Wednes­day.
  • LivaNova’s RECOVER study is part of a pro­to­col approved by CMS for the device to be reim­bursed through its cov­er­age with evi­dence devel­op­ment path­way.

News in Context:

Rethink­ing and Retool­ing Brain Health and Men­tal Health,

ses­sion held dur­ing the 2019 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit

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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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