Alphabet’s experimental projects group reveals mental health tech research: 5 details

Google’s parent company Alphabet revealed details about a new project that aims to tackle mental health challenges.

Alphabet’s experimental projects group, known as X, has been working on an initiative called Project Amber that aims to use electroencephalography data to monitor mental health. The team includes neuroscientists, hardware and software engineers, machine learning researchers and med-tech product experts.

Five details:

1. Project Amber developed prototype technologies to tackle mental health problems and is making its technology and research findings publicly available so others can expand on its work.

2. Mental health assessments typically rely on subjective information gathered through conversations with clinicians or surveys. Project Amber aimed to develop more objective ways of measuring mental health by applying machine learning techniques to EEG.

3. The researchers examined how individuals’ brain activity responded to game-like tasks and found the response was subdued for depressed individuals after winning the game.

4. Researchers noted that for their work to effect change, the EEG monitoring needs to be applied in the “real world” for mental health assessment, including primary care offices and counseling centers. Project Amber also focused efforts on making EEG data easier to collect and interpret as well.

5. The project didn’t succeed in finding a single biomarker for anxiety and depression. The team also recognized that using digital phenotyping to measure mental health is in the early stages and aims to accelerate future breakthroughs by sharing their work thus far on Github and pledging to release free associated patents and applications.

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