UMass Amherst Scientists Developing Necklace-like Wireless Device to Improve Understanding of Schizophrenia


Sunghoon Ivan Lee, left, and Jie Xiong talk about how they will develop a smaller sized device based upon the bigger model device imagined.

Two high-tech health scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have actually gotten a $1.15 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish a wireless device, used like a pendant, that intends to change the understanding and treatment of schizophrenia.

Biomedical informatician Sunghoon Ivan Lee and wireless health researcher Jie Xiong handled the job after a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital approached Lee about creating a method to step the social interactions of individuals with schizophrenia. The assistant teachers of details and computer technology are amongst the interdisciplinary scientists at UMass Amherst’s Institute of Applied Life Sciences (IALS), where they will perform their research study in the Center for Personalized Health Monitoring. IALS scientists aim to equate basic research study into developments that benefit mankind.

A leading cause of impairment in the U.S., schizophrenia is a persistent mental illness that impacts how an individual believes, feels and acts. It’s frequently defined by subtle irregularities in day-to-day social habits – signs that psychiatrists are not able to witness or research study in a scientific setting. For instance, clients with improperly managed signs generally keep substantial physical range from other individuals.

“People with schizophrenia tend to be isolated from other people in society,” Lee states. “This is a real-world, unsolved problem.”

Information about how far clients stand from others and their breathing and motion as they engage – and whether the range varies amongst member of the family, pals, colleagues and complete strangers – can assist psychiatrists identify how well medication is working and whether other treatments and interventions would be useful and improve quality of life.

“The goal is to objectively quantify the amount of real-world social interactions and the physical distance maintained from others in individuals with schizophrenia,” the scientists state.

Lee and Xiong are developing a device that utilizes acoustic signals to identify human beings with whom the client connects. The discrete, necklace-like device will likewise utilize an ultrasound signal to all at once determine the ranges of several targets within a precision of 2 centimeters. Xiong discusses that the Doppler result, together with the signal phase/amplitude modification, makes it possible for the scientists to identify subtle motion, such as breathing and arm gestures, which can supply extra, significant information. A GPS ability will expose whether the client’s habits modifications in various environments and areas. “All those multimodal data will be analyzed to find a correlation to the patients’ symptoms,” Lee states. The device will not tape-record discussions or other information that might be invasive.

The scientists hope to establish an algorithm from the information gathered that can be utilized by clinicians to evaluate the level of social inspiration and the seriousness of signs of individuals with schizophrenia. A supreme objective is to establish phenotypes, or observable qualities, of the condition and develop customized management of a person’s signs.

The very first year of research study will be dedicated to integrating the hardware into a compact style, Xiong states. The 2nd year, the scientists will evaluate the device and all its functions, initially in the IALS laboratory, and after that outdoors, utilizing UMass Amherst trainee volunteers in both settings.

Sophisticated “ground truth” technology, based upon devices for human motion analysis in the IALS laboratory, will assist Xiong and Lee examine the precision of the device and confirm their experiment. After that, the device will be shown Harvard Medical School psychiatrists to be checked on clients.

“We believe that progress toward moving schizophrenia treatment to a scientific process rooted in objective measurement and performance in the real world would contribute to a major paradigm shift in the field,” Lee and Xiong state.     

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