On one of our “walk and talks” around the lush trails of Rock Creek Park in DC surrounded by bikers, runners, cars and the occasional deer, Wendy and Lisa talked about aging. Wendy’s mother, who had her children in her early 20s, was still joining the family’s grueling summer hikes with her children and nine grandchildren well into her 60s. Wendy mused about how much older she would be when their kids could have their own kids. It dawned on her that her health was not just a here and now issue, but an investment in that future. We agreed to help each other cultivate the habits and make time to build strength as well as reserves, both physical and mental, for the long-term. Their goal: to enjoy being active in their 40s and 50s while also laying the groundwork to continue being active into their 60s, 70s, and beyond. [Read more…] about New book provides practical guidance for women (and men) to rebalance our lifestyles and build Cognitive Reserve
Brain/ Mental Health
The number of people struggling with poor mental health and mental disorders has been rising around the world over the past few decades. Those who are struggling are increasingly facing difficulties accessing the kind of support they need – leaving many waiting months for help, if they even qualify for treatment.
While it’s clear that more needs to be done to improve access to treatment, it doesn’t mean people inevitably have to struggle with their mental health as a result. In fact, there are many things people can do on their own to maintain good mental health – and even prevent mental health problems from developing in the first place. According to our recent research, one of the steps you can take to improve your mental wellbeing may be as simple as believing that you can.
In our recent study, we asked 3,015 Danish adults to fill out a survey that asked questions about mental health – such as whether they believe they can do something to keep mentally healthy, whether they had done something in the past two weeks to support their mental health, and also whether they were currently struggling with a mental health problem. We then assessed their level of mental wellbeing using the Short Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale, which is widely used by healthcare professionals and researchers to measure mental wellbeing. [Read more…] about Study on the “ABCs of Mental Health” finds that simply believing you can improve mental wellbeing helps actually improve it
The efficacy of Mental Health Apps (pharmaforum):
In January, PLOS Digital Health published a study which claimed that there’s “sparse” data to support the efficacy of most mental health apps.
In their meta-analysis of published studies, the authors found universal deficiencies and concluded that there’s no convincing evidence that app-based interventions deliver meaningful outcomes. Without digging further, one might think the current case for digital therapeutics is weak.
I reviewed all 14 meta-analyses included in the study and found the analysis to be accurate, but incomplete. [Read more…] about “Digital therapeutics” vs. “Mental health apps”: A growing debate on standards, regulation and efficacy
Virtual reality can help treat symptoms in patients with psychosis, according to a new study published in The Lancet Psychiatry.
GameChangeVR automates psychotherapy, guiding users with a virtual coach. It was developed by OxfordVR, a digital therapeutics company, the University of Oxford and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust … The study, based on 346 patients, found that automated VR therapy led to “significant reductions” in symptoms of anxious avoidance and distress. The technology especially benefited those with severe symptoms. The study concluded that the technology has the potential to increase access to effective care for psychosis. [Read more…] about Study: Automated VR psychotherapy can help reduce anxiety and distress, especially among those with psychosis and severe agoraphobia
Global digital health funding falls 36% with fewer megarounds, IPOs (Fierce Healthcare):
After two years of record-breaking investment in digital health, capital flow into the sector took a dive in the first quarter of 2022.
The global digital health market saw funding decrease 36% from the fourth quarter of 2021, totaling $10.4 billion, as investors reacted to supply chain woes, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a volatile stock market, according to a new CB Insights report. [Read more…] about Funding for digital health start-ups, especially in mental health, fall substantially in Q1’22
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring timely brain & mental health news and a fun brain teaser to test the limits of multi-tasking.
#1. Collaborative neuroimaging initiative BrainChart helps chart how brains change across the lifespan. Among the many fascinating findings:
“The volume of grey matter (brain cells) increases rapidly from mid-gestation onwards, peaking just before we are six years old. It then begins to decrease slowly.”
“The volume of white matter (brain connections) also increased rapidly from mid-gestation through early childhood and peaks just before we are 29 years old.”
“The decline in white matter volume begins to accelerate after 50 years.”
“Become more intentional about consuming news … newspapers, TV news programs, and many social media sites make their money by grabbing your attention—and nothing grabs attention better than negative news. But repeated exposure to crises wreaks havoc with our well-being and can lead to bad decision making.”
#3. As announced in our previous e‑newsletter, the Center for BrainHealth at UT-Dallas hosted a talk titled Navigating the Brain Health Market with Álvaro Fernández Ibáñez on April 21st. We had over a thousand participants, hundreds of comments and a superb Q&A at the end — you can enjoy the full session recording HERE, over at YouTube.
“Our study shows that it’s possible to map the diverse and wildly subjective psychedelic experiences to specific regions in the brain. These insights may lead to new ways to combine existing or yet to be discovered compounds to produce desired treatment effects for a range of psychiatric conditions.”
“Through an app downloaded to a patient’s own smartphone or tablet, Altoida’s tech first offers up a 10-minute test. A variety of Augmented Reality (AR)-powered exercises measure 11 areas of the brain that have been linked to Alzheimer’s. The video-game-like activities ask users to hide and relocate virtual objects around the room, simulate a fire evacuation and search for virtual items while a sound continuously plays .. The resulting report highlights symptoms of cognitive decline—such as hand and gait errors, eye tracking, pupil dilation and more—and provides a score of the likelihood that they’ll develop Alzheimer’s within the next year.”
“As an implementation scientist, it is always exciting to have other scientists evaluate the reproducibility of the performance of our passive digital marker in very different populations,” said Malaz Boustani, M.D., Richard M. Fairbanks Professor of Aging Research at Indiana University. “Reproducibility is the cornerstone of scientific progress.”
“There’s still a lot of foundational work that needs to be done,” said Maya Desai, director of life sciences for Guidehouse. “There’s a lot of behavioral change that needs to happen across the stakeholders and their mindsets to think about digital therapeutics as a category of its own.”
#8. And, yes, here’s the quick brain teaser to test the limits of multitasking
Wishing you and yours a healthy and stimulating May … Summer is Coming.
The SharpBrains Team