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Smartphones to Predict Connectivity between Regions of the Brain Linked With Anxiety and Depression Traits, Study Suggests

Jan, 2021 - By WMR

Smartphones to Predict Connectivity between Regions of the Brain Linked With Anxiety and Depression Traits, Study Suggests

According to a new research study by the researchers of Dartmouth College have reported that information on social activity, screen time, and location from smartphones can aid in predicting brain functions that are responsible for emotions such as anxiety and depression. In this research study, researchers involved participants and collected data from their phone usage and was evaluated together with the results from fMRI scans to ratify that passively collected information can mirror activity in the brain associated with anxiety traits. Moreover, researchers reported that estimations were based exclusively on the phone data that accorded the brain scans with 80% accuracy.

Mikio Obuchi, lead author of the study stated, “Simple information about how someone is using their smartphone can provide a peek into the complex functioning of the human brain. Although this research is just beginning, combining data from smartphones rather than fMRI alone will hopefully accelerate research to understand better how the human brain works.”

Moreover, researchers have informed that based on the frequency and screen time by an individual using their phone provides vital information about the function between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, major regions of the brain associated with emotions. In addition, ventromedial prefrontal cortex is accountable for decision making, self-control, and risk evaluation, whereas amygdala aids individuals in determining emotions.

Researchers informed that along with information on phone usage they also collected information about the participants exercise and sleep patterns. Researchers observed that an individual with more screen time, early bedtime, regular exercise, high social interaction and certain location patterns passively inferred from phone data accorded a state of higher functional connectivity between the brain regions, thereby indicating more positive emotional state.

Researchers concluded that stronger association between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the amygdala is linked with low levels of depression and anxiety, whereas low connectivity, on the other hand, exhibited more negative emotional traits.

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