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WhatWeRead #1: Laina Emmanuel, CEO

Image Source: Aaron Burden

At BrainSightAI we are constantly learning and growing as an organisation. It can be hard to keep track of the sea of information coming out from the world of neuroscience and psychiatry, but don’t worry we have you covered. This week's list of curated and informative reads comes straight from Laina’s desk.

A Mania for Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder by Mark Zimmerman

An old, but still relevant article on the implications of over-diagnosing and under-diagnosis bipolar disorder in major depression patients. This brilliantly brought the need of neuro-imaging indicators, that can help in greater precision in recognizing bipolar symptoms.

NIMH » Different Approaches to Understanding and Classifying Mental Disorders

“The more we learn about mental disorders, the more we realize there are gaps in our understanding of how best to classify, diagnose and treat them” This document talks about RDoC as a research framework in conjunction with DSM and ICD framework.

Wittgenstein's nightmare: why the RDoC grid needs a conceptual dimension

While building out Snowdrop, our app that tracks behaviour and symptoms to aid better understanding and management of mental illnesses, we have to be aware of what RDOC isn’t. And this article clearly lays out the conceptual errors that RDoC is making.

What kind of science for psychiatry?

I personally believe that, even though the RDoC is probably ages away from being considered in diagnostic criteria, its greater utility lies in being able to destigmatize illnesses by showing the multi-dimensional nature of it. This in fact, is the guiding principle of the product design and content design for our app.

A model for streamlining psychotherapy in the RDoC era: the example of ‘Engage’

This article was wonderful, in that, it encapsulates so well what we are doing with our app. Quoting from the article, “Evidence-based psychotherapies are rarely used and sustained in the community. A major barrier to their implementation is their complexity, which makes them inaccessible to a large number of mental health professionals.” How do we streamline and simplify the process of construction of psychotherapies for professionals, while enabling personalized, stepped therapy at scale for the vast number of people who need it?

This is where our app comes in. Its architecture is based on the RDoC, as mentioned in the previous article. We do this in three steps:

  • We use a combination of digital phenotypes, caregiver inputs and self-reports and a RDoC based architecture to identify biological constructs driving a particular syndrome’s psychopathology and psychosocial aspects.

  • The app enables the doctor to create a structured intervention utilizing behavioral and ecosystem modification techniques targeting behaviors related to these constructs;

  • Over time, the data we generate helps the professional examine whether the efficacy of the new intervention is mediated by change in behaviors related to the targeted RDoC constructs.

Psychoanalysis and the Re-Enchantment of Psychiatry: Jonathan Shedler, PhD

Snowdrop helps in getting insights into symptoms which a patient often forgets to mention or glosses over. But symptoms are not everything. Mental and emotional distress, as Jonathan Shedler very succinctly brings out in this interview, cannot be understood in terms of brain circuitry or chemistry. Mental and emotional distress has meaning for patients. And apart from a new conceptualization of RDOC for symptoms, we need categorization of psychological processes that underlie mental and emotional suffering – not DSM categories. The key challenge for us, is how do we make that happen?

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