Video games developed by scientists to diagnose, monitor and treat depression | Science and technology news


Scientists have developed video games using AI technology to diagnose, monitor and treat depression.

The platform, called Thymia, aims to make depression and other mental illnesses as measurable as physical ailments.

dr Emilia Molimpakis, Thymia CEO and co-founder, told Sky News: “Right now the existing system is flawed in many ways, GPs don’t have time, the existing systems they have are subjective questionnaires that are incredibly biased and it There is no aftercare between appointments.

The software analyzes the patient’s voice, gaze and micro-expressions along with behavioral metrics

“Thymia is the first system to offer objectivity and use different types of data to create a truly accurate and robust depression model.”

The program asks patients to play simple video games with neuropsychological underpinnings that are ultimately designed to measure depressive signals.

During play, the software analyzes the patient’s voice, gaze, and microexpressions, as well as behavioral measures such as reaction times, memory, and error rates.

This recognizes patterns that indicate depression and enables a quick diagnosis.

Because it’s designed to monitor patients over the long term, patients can play games between appointments to see if treatments are working over time.

dr  Emilia Molimpakis, CEO and co-founder of Thymia
dr Emilia Molimpakis hopes the Thymia program will help clinicians diagnose depression much faster

dr Molimpakis said: “What we want to achieve is to help doctors make the right diagnosis much faster – it currently takes years, we want to reduce that to weeks – and also help them find the right treatment for each individual patient .”

Posy Parsons first developed symptoms of depression in her mid-20s.

Currently, diagnostic tools used to diagnose depression involve patients assessing their feelings — something Ms Parsons has struggled with.

Faced with challenges even back then, getting a diagnosis brought its own set of challenges.

She told Sky News: “All the doctor receives is this one form and he has no context as to what else is going on and all the different complexities of the situation.

“You really feel like it’s that quick snap, and then they judge and draw potentially huge consequences for your life.”

She says being able to see the objective readings of depression would “help realize it’s a real thing” — and help her stay on top of her own mental well-being.

Thymia has been trialled in around 2,000 patients at University College London and King’s College London, with clinical trials starting later this year.

Posy Parsons was diagnosed with depression in her mid-20s
Posy Parsons says it would be helpful to see objective measurements of depression

But there are concerns about whether the technology will have the desired effect, with some saying the root of the problem needs to be front and center.

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dr Lucy Johnstone, a consulting clinical psychologist, told Sky News: “It’s a fair point to say that we’re not very good at tracking down, understanding or supporting people who are feeling depressed.

“I’m just not sure if that’s the answer.

“A quick checklist won’t tell you much, but neither will a video game looking at your gaze.

“I actually think that as psychologists, we need to find out more about why people feel the way they are.

“We actually know a lot about the life circumstances that lead people to become depressed.

“We actually need someone to sit down and ask you more about these events in your life, that’s actually going to help us understand people better.”

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