Bringing MIT mental wellness projects under one umbrella, through shared intellect and resources

neuron
Date Completed
Abstract

The Mental Wellness Initiative (MWI) proposes to explore a series of questions around identifying, detecting, and acting on temporal perception and language generation biomarkers both common to the three conditions as well as unique to one or two of these conditions. Professors Pawan Sinha (autism), John Gabrieli (anxiety/depression), and Sanjay Sarma (Alzheimer’s) are uniquely positioned to apply MIT-style science AND engineering to synergistically apply personalization in the form of diagnostic assessments that lead to targeted interventions across diverse populations.

Description

Mental health disorders are a growing concern in every country in the world, with a cost to the global economy in the trillions. 

A collective failure to respond to this escalating crisis can cause lasting harm to people, communities, and economies worldwide. (Lancet Commission 2018)

The mission of MIT Open Learning is “to transform teaching and learning at MIT and around the globe through the innovative use of digital technologies.” Within MIT Open Learning, the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative (MITili) funds, connects, and shares research investigating human learning effectiveness. The Mental Wellness Initiative (MWI) is a MITili effort.

At the core of a learner’s ability to learn is a solid foundation of mental wellness.

Goal

The goal of the MWI is to expand the scope and impact of MIT research projects, initially focusing on the following conditions:

  • Autism (4 million people in the USA)
  • Anxiety and Depression (64 million)
  • Dementia/Alzheimer’s (6 million)

Why MIT/Why These Three Conditions?

While the three broad categories of conditions differently affect individuals across their lifespan--autism begins early, anxiety and depression can emerge as soon as in childhood or young adulthood, while the onset of Alzheimer’s tends to be much later in life--the initiative hypotheses some common elements that will benefit from collective study.

One, these conditions are chronic--once present, they take considerable effort to accommodate, but they don’t “get better” naturally. Two, these conditions all benefit from being caught early. Three, family members, loved ones, and caregivers are deeply affected by the presence of these conditions and their interactions with those directly afflicted. Four, and perhaps most important from a common detection and treatment perspective, these conditions all include an element of time distortion and present an element of difference in language use.

The Mental Wellness Initiative proposes to explore a series of questions around identifying, detecting, and acting on temporal perception and language generation biomarkers both common to the three conditions as well as unique to one or two of these conditions. Professors Pawan Sinha (autism), John Gabrieli (anxiety/depression), and Sanjay Sarma (Alzheimer’s) are uniquely positioned to apply MIT-style science AND engineering to synergistically apply personalization in the form of diagnostic assessments that lead to targeted interventions across diverse populations.

Researchers
Dr. John Gabrieli, Dr. Pawan Sinha, Dr. Sanjay Sarma
Lab Name
MWI