A new digital mental health intervention, Step-by-Step, developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) with the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) at the Ministry of Public Health Lebanon and other partners, was effective in reducing depression among Syrian refugees in Lebanon, according to a study published in PLOS Medicine. [Read more…] about Digital mental health intervention by the World Health Organization (WHO) found to lower anxiety and depression, with improvements maintained at 3‑month follow-up
Brain/ Mental Health
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring timely brain & mental health news and a fun brain teaser to put your temporal lobes to good use 🙂
“Here, we estimated the impact of different types of screen time (watching, socializing, or gaming) on children’s intelligence while controlling for the confounding effects of genetic differences in cognition and socioeconomic status … Broadly, our results are in line with research on the malleability of cognitive abilities from environmental factors, such as cognitive training and the Flynn effect.”
Fascinating! Having said that…
“Social interaction is hugely important. One study found that the size of our social group is actually associated with the volume of the orbitofrontal cortex (involved in social cognition and emotion). But how many friends do we need? … It is hard to argue with the fact that humans are social animals and gain enjoyment from connecting with others, whatever age we are. But, as we are increasingly uncovering, it also crucial for the health of our cognition.”
“Some people do very well in training, such as playing a video game, but they don’t show near transfer, perhaps because they are using highly specific strategies,” said first author Anja Pahor … “For these people, far transfer is unlikely. By better understanding why this type of memory training or ‘intervention’ works for some people but not others, we can move forward with a new generation of working-memory training games or use approaches that are more tailored to individuals’ needs”
“In our ongoing large-scale study (note: the one right above) we aim to recruit 30,000 adults who are motivated and willing to help us better understand the factors that underlie learning outcomes using a variety of training paradigms and outcome measures. Our endeavor will ultimately contribute to the personalization of cognitive training so that, hopefully, anyone who would like to improve their cognitive functioning will be able to choose the approach that may fit them best.” — researchers Susanne Jaeggi, Anja Pahor, Aaron Seitz @ UC Irvine/ Riverside
Esports are borrowing a page from Pro Sports’ book … we wouldn’t be surprised to see the inverse taking place too in just a few years.
“For those without severe mental illness, app-based therapy may be helpful in matching clients with a professional familiar with a range of problems and stressors. This makes apps attractive to those with anxiety and mild to moderate depression. They also appeal to people who wouldn’t ordinarily seek out office-based therapy, but who want help with life issues such as marital problems and work-related stress.”
#8. And here’s the Brain Teaser: Ready to stimulate those neurons in your temporal lobes?
Wishing you and yours a healthy and fun summer!
How can we cut through the controversies around brain training and unlock the exciting potential as suggested by the numerous published studies showing examples of cognitive training benefits? [Read more…] about Please help us recruit 30,000 adults for a UC Citizen Science project on cognitive training
Why do we get a buzz from being in large groups at festivals, jubilees and other public events? According to the social brain hypothesis, it’s because the human brain specifically evolved to support social interactions. Studies have shown that belonging to a group can lead to improved wellbeing and increased satisfaction with life.
Unfortunately though, many people are lonely or socially isolated. [Read more…] about Large neuroimaging study finds social isolation to be an early indicator of increased dementia risk
Who benefits from brain training, and why? (UCI release):
If you are skilled at playing puzzles on your smartphone or tablet, what does it say about how fast you learn new puzzles, or more broadly, how well can you focus in school or at work? In the language of psychologists, does “near transfer” predict “far transfer”?
A team of psychologists from the University of California, Irvine and the University of California, Riverside reports in Nature Human Behavior that people who show near transfer are more likely to show far transfer. For a person skilled at playing a game, such as Wordle, near transfer refers to being skilled at similar games, such as a crossword puzzle. An example of far transfer for this person would be the ability to better focus on daily life activities. [Read more…] about UC study finds near-transfer of cognitive training to be necessary (yet not sufficient) for far-transfer, broader benefits
It might be surprising to think about browsing for therapists and ordering up mental health care the way you can peruse a menu on Grubhub or summon a car on Lyft.
But over the last decade, digital access to therapy has become increasingly common, in some cases replacing the traditional model of in-person weekly sessions between a therapist and client.
Apps for mental health and wellness range from mood trackers, meditation tools and journals to therapy apps that match users to a licensed professional. My team’s research focuses on therapy apps that work by matching clients to a licensed professional. [Read more…] about Dos and Don’ts of Therapy on the Go: Navigating the use of apps for mental health care