Psychological Self-Monitoring for the Military
mood & emotion
David Cooper tried to combined psychology and technology in his current job. He works for the military, specifically under the army and work on building applications – psychology related applications for active service members and their families for two reasons. In this video, he talks about the application that they have developed and some that they were working on. The application that they created is called Mood Tracker. It allows people to create their own rating scale, using a visual analog scale which is a quick slider back and forth.
Psychological Self-Monitoring for the Military
I’m trying to marriage those two in a career because most of phycology fits very well with Quantified Self, 90% of what I do in therapy is analyze data and spot patterns. ‘Oh you keep getting anxious every time you call your mother. I wonder what that could be about.’ And you would be amazed at how many clients go “I never thought about that before.”
So putting data in front of people is giving them that sort of analysis is really what psychology is all about which is that we’re also very bad in psychology and technologically behind. I give pen and paper to people to record their moods throughout the day and then bring it back to me.
Also please interrupt me with lots of questions. I spent the last year teaching undergraduates so I’m happy to get interruptions whenever.
So marring psychology and technology, that’s what I’m trying to do right now in my current job. I work for the military, specifically under the army and work on building applications – psychology related applications for active service members and their families for two reasons.
One, like I said psychology is incredibly behind, so we need someone to help step up the game, to help psychology take advantage of all the resources that we have. And two, there’s a large amount of stigma in the military seeking mental health treatment.
So if I can give you an application on your phone that allows you to rate your mood or do some sort of psychological intervention, that is a lot more palatable to a lot of service members than maybe reading a self-help book or using a pen and paper solution.
So really those are our two driving forces to help psychology take advantage of what we can do technologically and treat military stigma. So this is where I work, it’s called National Center for Telehealth and Technology, and we are based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and if you don’t know where that is it’s right down there.
So what we do is we’ve got a small suite around apps we’re developing. I thought we would talk about two very briefly that we have developed now and then some things that we’re working on, and hopefully I can bring back and tell you guys more as we go forward.
As I’ve said part of psychology is tracking your mood, tracking your feelings throughout the day. I can ask you how the week went or you can record it and we can analyze the data together.
So we developed an application called Mood Tracker that allows people to create their own rating scale, using a visual analog scale, a quick slider back and forth. No need to punch in numbers, no mean to really sit and think am I a two or a three today. You know you can just kind of approximate.
You can create your own. We have it preloaded with a few things as far as PTSD, depression, anxiety. Things like that for people to work on and then use and each has different subscales.
We track it over time and it gives you a nice visual representation. You can print it out in a PDF, and see a very nice longitude in tracking these things over time. And like little Edward Tufty like spark charts to go along and see everything, and compare data together over time. That’s kind of our generic mood solution.
There’s another one that I thought it would be of interest to you Quantified Self people and that’s called Bio Zen. So is anybody here ever done any kind of ECG neurofeedback brainwave measurements?
Well in psychology one of the things that do is biofeedback or neurofeedback, and that usually involve me wheeling a cart like this around from patient to patient with lots of gadgets and lots of things hooked up. That I then have to spend about five or 10 minutes hooking on a patient, and then showing them all the pretty graphs and everything and getting them to either associate some kind of biological signal like heart rate variability, galvanic skin response - how sweaty your hands get and have them monger that over time as we do an intervention to see how effective that is.
“So wow look, as you were doing this deep breathing you can see that your heart rate is improving over time kind of in the moment.” And we can do the same things to a certain extent with certain brainwave signals.
But again, one of the problems is it’s kind of cumbersome and kind of heavy, so we developed Bio-Zen which basically uses a Bluetooth connection to hook up to specific neurofeedback devices and allows you to monitor all of that on your phone rapid. Get that feedback, collect that data on your own to kind of study it and analyze it.
It’s of course very pretty, but you know giving you some basic measures of I think it’s a delta-wave, yellow is alpha. We’re collecting some of these things and we’ve got a meditation algorithm, so looking at brainwaves that are associated with meditation.
We also give you a nice visual feedback, so you don’t need to look at the ugly graph. Maybe if you say I want to increase my alpha wave. Well you set a threshold and then the more you’re in that range the brighter the sun gets behind the trees. So kind of like the m-wave with the nice up and down and you get a nice color feedback.
So those are things that we have now, and what we’re working on is areas like heart rate variability using your phone, the camera on your phone to measure your heart rate and track your heart rate variability over time.
I’m working right now with some folks from the University of Pennsylvania and Walter Reed on sleep actigraphy application for military combat pilots, to give them an estimate of their cognitive alertness throughout the day base on circadian rhythm and how much they’ve slept during the night. And we’re going to hopefully incorporate a PDT test where you have to hit the target for reaction time. That’s another measure of how sleepy somebody is basically; how fast can you react to certain things over a long period of time.
But I’m also incredibly lazy and that’s why I said one of the things was lazy. So we’re trying to look at how much of this data can we collect automatically. There are a couple of open source sensing frameworks that we want to use to pick up things like TPS data.
We’re talking to some folks at (You Dove? 07:52) and about a pain tracking application. And one of the treatments they use for pain has to do with providing contextual factors. Not only how much do you hurt, but what’s going on around you. And with my experience, personal experience and with clients it’s really hard to get people to track those.
I hate tracking things. I love starting and stopping things. my equanimity tracker, I use equanimity a lot. It’s lie okay I’ve got two days, and then like a couple of weeks later I’ve got two days more, and then a couple of week later I’ve got two days more – I just forget to track, so I’m interested in finding a way where we can make this actually smart and learn these kinds of things and do it automatically so I don’t have to.
I didn’t want to – I wouldn’t want to go against the taboo of developing a product I don’t have – so I just started there, so we’re developing these products now I don’t have a lot to show you right now as far as actually data or things like that. I hope in the future I’ll be able to come in and talk a little bit more about these things.
But in the meantime one of the benefits for working with the military is your tax dollars pay for these things so they’re all completely free. You can download them from our website, from the respective app stores. Or if you are a coder which I am not, we are also putting all of our stuff on GitHub, so all of our apps are available on open source on GitHub. So please help us improve them all of those sorts of things.