“Wysa, the leading global AI-powered mental health platform, today, during Mental Health Awareness Month, announced a $5.5M Series A financing round led by W Health Ventures, a Boston-based digital health investor. Others participating in the round include the Google Assistant Investment program, and existing investors pi Ventures and Kae Capital. Wysa will use this capital to support its offering to employers who want to expand their mental health benefits, as well as scale up Wysa’s sales team and therapist network. [Read more…] about Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled chatbot Wysa raises $5.5M to broaden access to mental health support
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring fascinating neuroscience findings and tips, combined with fun brain teasers.
#1. To celebrate this quite-challenging Thanksgiving, here are five fun brain teasers that readers have enjoyed the most this year so far. It is always good to learn more about (and appreciate) that most precious resource we all (yes, all) have up there! Five fun brain teasers to thank evolution for our human brains and minds
#2. Want more? Ready, Set, Go! A few brain teasers to flex those cognitive muscles
#3. “[Breathing techniques] are allowing you to consciously take control of your breathing so you can take control of your nervous system so you can take control of your anxiety” — James Nestor, author of Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. New book shares science and techniques to breathe better and promote calmness not anxiety
#4. Voice does matter…especially in areas of potential disagreement. To call, or to text, that is the (mental well-being) question
#5. Fascinating research + innovation event brought by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) and multiple partners. Save the Date: Promoting Brain Health for Life, December 15–16th, online.
#6. “This isn’t a battle between AI and doctors, it’s about how to optimize doctors’ ability to deliver better care” — P. Murali Doraiswamy, director of the Neurocognitive Disorders Program at Duke University. Next: Analyzing typing speed, speech and sleep patterns to identify cognitive decline, dementia, Parkinson’s, and more
#7. Google’s X team shares 3 valuable lessons learned from their ambitious and (for the time being) unsuccessful moonshot: Alphabet’s X shares Amber EEG system to expand the quest for mental health biomarkers
#8. “An exercise prescription is an important treatment option and a great adjunct to medications. The key is prescribing physical activity in a way that the patient will comply and remain engaged with.” Debate: How should doctors prescribe exercise to ensure compliance and engagement?
#9. As the study authors note, “The expansion of women into the labor force in the mid-20th century may have provided a new avenue of cognitive reserve for women via enhanced social stimulation and cognitive engagement.” Study: Work in adulthood seen to significantly delay memory decline after age 60, supporting the Cognitive Reserve theory
#10. “Throughout many subreddits, we found significant increases in the use of tokens related to isolation (eg, “lonely,” “can’t see anyone,” “quarantine”), economic stress (eg, “rent,” “debt,” “pay the bills”), and home (“fridge,” “pet,” “lease”), and a decrease in the lexicon related to motion (eg, “walk,” “visit,” “travel”).” Hopefully the promising vaccine news helps turn the tide; until then we need to promote mental health & resilience hard. Using Reddit as a population-level “mental health tracker” during the COVID pandemic
#11. “BCI devices can be non-invasive devices that users wear, or they can be invasive devices, which are surgically implanted,” says Veljko Dubljevi … “The invasive devices are more efficient, since they can read signals directly from the brain. However, they also raise more ethical concerns. For example, invasive BCI technologies carry more associated risks such as surgery, infection, and glial scarring — and invasive BCI devices would be more difficult to replace as technology improves.” Studies identify key ethical concerns raised by invasive and non-invasive neurotechnologies
#12. “(the app) uses the Watch’s sensors to track the heart rate and movement of users as they sleep. After establishing a baseline profile for the patient within one or two nights’ sleep, the machine learning algorithm spots heart rate or movement abnormalities presumably caused by a nightmare. The application then vibrates the smartwatch just enough to interrupt the wearer’s dreaming, but not enough to wake them up or disrupt their circadian sleep cycle.” FDA grants clearance for NightWare app designed to reduce PTSD-related nightmares
Wishing you a safe and healthy December,
Alvaro Fernandez and the SharpBrains Team
Dear SharpBrains community,
I hope you’re staying healthy and safe. As you may know, my memoir, Girl Decoded, published by Penguin Random House, comes out on April 21st. I’d planned numerous events across the U.S. and abroad to share my story with all of you. But, in light of the global health crisis surrounding COVID-19, everything is rightfully canceled.
In this time when we need to socially distance, I know I’m craving human connection more than ever. I still want to connect with you all on the themes discussed in my book. [Read more…] about Upcoming: Virtual book tour to explore the frontier of Emotional Intelligence and Technology
Decades from now when our augmented brains have enhanced our cognitive function and transformed nearly every aspect of our lives, many of us will look back and wonder why we didn’t do more to prepare for these inevitable changes. Government leaders may grapple with the runaway effects of AI and brain enhancement on geopolitics. Companies that fail to incorporate neurotechnologies and BCI into their operational flow could lose significant market share and be forced to scramble in an attempt to regain a foothold in an industry they once dominated.
Workers who don’t heed the warnings to re-skill or upskill may find themselves out of a job as entire industries disappear. Graduating college students may discover their field of study is no longer relevant in the business world, leaving them unprepared for the changing job market. Tech innovators could be caught up in fierce competition to snap up employees from a very limited talent pool, driving up the cost of innovation and hampering its development. And everyday citizens may be wrestling with the unexpected consequences of unintentionally giving away the rights to their neural data.
Rest assured, it doesn’t have to be this way. [Read more…] about Fast Forward to 2040: How to prepare for the new era in brain enhancement that will change the way we think, work, and heal
When: November 15–16th, 2019
Where: Elks Palo Alto, Palo Alto, CA 94306
What: The Transformative Technology Conference is an inspiring conference focused on tech for mental health, emotional wellbeing, and human flourishing, at the intersection of neuroscience, psychology, tech, entrepreneurship, and innovation. It features exponential technologies like AI, AR/VR/XR, networks and sensors, biotech, neurofeedback, robotics and more to build tech to enable human wellbeing at scale. [Read more…] about November 15–16th in Palo Alto, CA: Transformative Technology Conference & Expo 2019
As part of its 2019 NeuroTech Ontario Showcase, the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) today introduced the 2019 ONtrepreneurs – recipients of Canada’s single largest award for early-stage brain technology entrepreneurs … The successful 2019 ONtrepreneurs are: Israel Gasperin – Zentrela, Joshua Lobo – Stabilo Medical, Zachary McMahon – LUCID, Maryam Nabavi – Village Technologies, Michael Philips – Vena Medical, and Alexander Theodorou – Ocutherapy. [Read more…] about The Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) announces six new ONtrepreneurs working at the frontier of applied neurotech