What does the new study on depression and anxiety show?
It shows that an experimental mobile app can monitor a patient’s mood with greater frequency and as great or greater reliability than traditional methods, opening new possibilities for earlier intervention. You can read the study here.

Mental health professionals currently tend to rely on having patients respond to standard questionnaires with multiple questions asking patients to self-rate and quantify their feelings on a scale or continuum. Drawbacks of this approach include (1) the need for an office visit to take such an assessment with its scheduling challenges and costs, (2) that visit requirement tends to screen out many patients, especially those who have not yet advanced to severe depression, (3) such traditional assessments typically are administered infrequently, and (4) such assessments rely on patients to remember how they felt days or weeks earlier, making that information less reliable.

The ubiquity of mobile devices presents an opportunity for frequent self-administration of self-rating assessments. Researchers working at Posit Science developed the 12-question Immediate Mood Scale (IMS) to frequently measure and monitor self-rated mental health. The IMS is deployed on a standard mobile device, and uses icons and simple standardized questions on a regular basis to monitor how a patient feels over time. The IMS includes both anxiety and depression sub-scales.

In a 110-person study, researchers found that results from the IMS highly correlated with results from the widely-used traditional depression and anxiety assessments, the PHQ-9 and GAD-7, and that the IMS was capable of predicting future performance in these measures. In addition, people could complete the IMS more quickly than traditional measures.

Because the IMS is self-administered using a mobile device, people can report their mood much more frequently than they typically do using a traditional assessment administered by a clinician.

The researchers also reported that the study data showed that people with mild or moderate depression levels have greater variability in their mood than people with minimal or severe depression. Capturing these fluctuations offers new information not available through traditional measures, and could lead to more sensitive early detection of mood disorders.

Who ran the study?
The study, which published in the Journal for Medical Internet Research mhealth and uhealth, was conducted by researchers at Posit Science in collaboration with researchers at the University of California San Francisco and the University of California Berkeley.

Who funded the study?
The study was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), as part of a larger initiative focused on monitoring and improving the mental health of soldiers.

Are there other studies of BrainHQ assessments or exercises related to depression, anxiety and mood?
The new experimental app that monitors mood over time has been deployed in a number of other studies funded by DARPA, looking at possible neuro-biomarkers for mood disorders and the impact of BrainHQ training.

Prior studies in healthy older adults and in patients with clinical indications have shown a significant positive impact on mood from BrainHQ training.

What was the news about a new Posit Science patent related to mood disorders?
The US Patent Office has issued a comprehensive patent to Posit Science for inventions utilizing brain training software to address depression, mood and anxiety disorders.

Brain training has recently emerged as a new pathway for treating neurological disorders by harnessing the brain’s plasticity – its natural ability to change chemically, structurally and functionally.

Drug therapies typically work by flooding the brain with a molecule that alters the action of a single, specific neurochemical pathway at all times. This approach is not very selective – it does not harness the brain’s natural processes to produce the right amount of the right brain chemicals at the right time.

Plasticity-based brain training is designed to take a very different approach, by exercising the machinery known to stimulate the production of brain chemicals, in an effort to engage systems to produce chemicals on demand, in the instant when they are required.

Will there be new products to address these issues?
As its research advances in clinical indications, Posit Science plans to approach appropriate regulatory agencies to explore the shortest path to getting a form of relevant exercises into the hands of patients who may be helped.