“There is a company called NightWare, that developed a feature for PTSD that uses components from Apple Watch. One of the primary symptoms in PTSD is intense nightmares which are very distressing, they disrupt their sleep and really drive a lot of symptomatology. This company created an app that detects when people with PTSD are having nightmares.  It uses the existing sleep function [on the watch] to detect when they are having disruptive sleep. Then it uses the vibrating haptic to wake the patient up. So it is simply just disrupting their sleep, waking them up from a nightmare, and by doing so they have been able to show that they can decrease overall PTSD symptoms.” 


Episode Description: We begin with differentiating the application of technology in mental health evaluation and treatment. Isaac shares with us his research in measuring facial expressions as indicators of mood states with clinical implications for outcome prediction. He also discusses “natural language processing” and how this is in the early stages of applicability for mental health interventions such as suicide prevention. We consider the utility of wrist wearables and virtual reality as means to augment the clinician’s tools to be attuned to patients’ affects and experiences. We close with some thoughts on the future therapist’s virtual office with Isaac sharing with us his professional journey in this world of mental health technology [Dr. Galatzer-Levy has no financial association with NightWare].


Our Guest: Isaac Galatzer-Levy, Ph.D. His work focuses on building mental health technology. He holds academic appointments at NYU School of Medicine in Psychiatry. Until recently, he led mental health technology development at Meta Reality Labs and now works at Google. Isaac’s career has focused on the development of biological and digital markers and accompanying digital interventions to remediate psychiatric illness, reduce risk, and promote resilience including the use of multi-omics data sources, computer vision, and voice analysis. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles and is an inventor on multiple patents and continues to conduct research in industry, in collaboration with government entities (NIH, DOD, NATO, VA), and academics around the world, and contributes to large-scale open source/open science initiatives.  

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