Until recently, mental health was a relative blip on the radar of venture capitalists. But over the past few years, and particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, private investors have made a dramatic run for this space, pouring $3.1 billion into mental health ventures by the third quarter of 2021 alone, according to Rock Health, a seed fund that supports startups working in digital health. That represents a third of all digital health funding for 2021, more than 7 times the amount of funding placed in such ventures in 2015. [Read more…] about APA: With digital mental health going mainstream, will/ should psychologists be able to “prescribe” interventions?
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, sharing important brain/ mental health news plus a few fun optical illusions to tease and appreciate our unique human minds.
“We are a pharmacist and physician team who investigate the benefits and harms associated with substances of abuse like bath salts, phenibut, cannabis and synthetic marijuana. Through this work we have become intrigued about the therapeutic potential for some psychedelic drugs in the treatment of myriad psychiatric disorders, from PTSD to major depression … It is important to state that using ecstasy or molly products from the street would not help PTSD symptoms because the MDMA needs be used along with carefully crafted psychotherapy in a safe, controlled environment. Ecstasy or molly products purchased illicitly never specify the exact amount of MDMA they contain, so it is impossible to dose it properly for PTSD. Taking too much MDMA or exercising while taking MDMA can cause heart attacks, strokes, seizures and arrhythmias and can damage muscles and kidneys.”
“Your well-being can change: One common notion within psychology before the positive psychology movement was that individuals had a set happiness point, and that this point did not change drastically. So why bother trying to improve it, right? Diener helped to change that narrative by finding that certain significant events did in fact change well-being permanently. This suggests that interventions can have a lasting impact, and has paved the way for positive psychologists to focus on applying their research to improve the human condition.”
“ … differences in cognitive decline have been often observed in association with education or other related to quality of life. From our analysis it emerges that the type of work activity also contributes to the differences in normal and pathological cognitive aging”
“Understanding the mechanisms behind brain folding and connectivity will provide researchers with the knowledge foundation to uncover their role in developmental brain disorders. In the long term, clarifying the connection between brain structure and function may lead to early diagnostic tools for brain diseases … researchers like us have our work cut out for us as we continue trying to decipher the mystery of the most complex known structure in the universe.”
The Times They Are a‑Changin’ …
“eMindful and Ginger join Solera’s curated Mental and Behavioral Health Network, which already included leading meditation, mindfulness, and mental training app, Headspace. Solera continues to expand its suite of whole-person health solutions to support health journeys across acuity levels and clinical personas.”
And here are two older posts which have remained among our Most Read in 2021:
“Despite television, cell phones, and Twitter, traditional reading is still an important skill. Whether it is school textbooks, magazines, or regular books, people still read, though not as much as they used to. One reason that many people don’t read much is that they don’t read well. For them, it is slow, hard work and they don’t remember as much as they should … I summarize below what I think it takes to read with good speed and comprehension.”
One way to learn more about our visual system is to look at how we can trick it … give these ten illusions a try!
Wishing you and yours a Healthy & Prosperous 2022,
The SharpBrains Team
In 2015, Brie Code was working at leading video game company Ubisoft as lead artificial intelligence programmer when she realized that many people she knew – about half, by her estimation – found video games boring. [Read more…] about Trend: Harnessing digital tech to improve mental health and wellness
But can just-breathing really make a difference?
In his new book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, journalist James Nestor argues that modern humans have become pretty bad at this most basic act of living. We breathe through our mouths and into our chests, and we do it way too fast. There’s even a phenomenon called “email apnea,” where multitasking office workers breathe irregularly and shallowly, or even hold their breath, for half a minute or more while glued to their devices.
Besides all the worrisome health problems this may cause—detailed pointedly in Nestor’s book—our ineptitude at breathing may have another big consequence: contributing to our anxiety and other mental health problems. [Read more…] about New book shares science and techniques to breathe better and promote calmness not anxiety
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring 12 fascinating neuroscience findings and open questions–and the beautiful image above.
#1. “With this image I want to illustrate the large advances made in imaging methods over the past century, allowing modern neuroscientists to look at neurons in ways that Cajal could have only dreamed of.” – Silvia Rodriguez-Rozada, Center for Molecular Neurobiology, Hamburg. Award-winning image shows neuroimaging progress in a century
#2. One more reason why lifelong learning matters: Study: High Cognitive Reserve (CR) seen to significantly lower dementia risk even in the presence of high Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) neuropathology
#3. It’s Friday; perfect time to make some fun and healthy weekend plans: How feeling awe in nature can spur mental well-being and personal growth
#4. Not a bad idea either: On cutting “empty brain calories” by reading a book instead of social media
#5. “…humility helps people let go of defensiveness, take in information that challenges their political views, and see the humanity in people on the other side of the political spectrum. Though it’s not always easy to embrace—especially for those who wrongfully equate it with weakness or a lack of conviction—humility may be what we desperately need right now in the United States.” On perception, cognitive bias and cultivating humility ahead of next week’s vote
#6. “When it feels like the world is crashing down around them, giving young people a moment to feel, express, and receive gratitude can help—and that in itself is something to be grateful for.” Study: A combined teaching + app gratitude program helps adolescents address anxiety and improve mental health
#7. To honor ADHD Awareness Month, let’s address this most important question: What should come first to treat ADHD in children, behavior therapy or stimulant medication?
#8. Debate: Can mindfulness and meditation be harmful? Two new studies answer the question in apparently opposite but actually quite complementary ways.
#10. “…new study funded by the National Institutes of Health that aims to recruit 30,000 volunteers to participate in a memory training study that compares multiple approaches to train working memory”: Given cognitive strengths and needs are diverse, what brain training may work best for each person and under which conditions?
#11. “Virtual reality is a promising skills-based behavioral medicine that has been shown to have high patient engagement and satisfaction,” said Beth Darnall, PhD, AppliedVR’s chief science advisor. “However, chronic pain patients to date have had very limited access to it, so we’re excited to continue working with the FDA to develop our platform and get it into the market faster.” The FDA clears AppliedVR headset to help treat fibromyalgia and chronic pain
#12. “Having run a media company in a tough market with a young, millennial workforce, we witnessed first-hand how there was a complete lack of investment in helping this generation with their mental health in a way that they’re used to: a community product that is mobile-first and video-led. We want to make the world a happier place by making working on your mental health as normal as going to the gym.” — Adnan Ebrahim, co-founder and CEO of MindLabs. What will the ‘Peloton for mental health’ look like five years from now? And, who will develop it?
Wishing you a safe and healthy November,
Alvaro Fernandez and the SharpBrains Team
Yes (in perhaps 8% of individuals). Can mindfulness and meditation be harmful? (Science Focus):
Meditation has escaped both the religious cells of monks and nuns and the labs of scientists. An increasing number of people are using meditation apps to deal with mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. Although there is no clear estimate of how many people are practising meditation, last year one single app had close to 40 million downloads. [Read more…] about Debate: Can mindfulness and meditation be harmful?