Mental Health Interventions

I believe in the mindless intervention vision. What can we do after sensing? What if we can deliver intervention when people experience acute stress or craving, not by occupying more cognitive bandwidth, but by leveraging the body itself to affect the CNS non-pharmaceutically?

A large portion of my work focuses on developing these mindless interventions and understanding the opportune moment for intervention delivery. 


Cravigator: Minimally Obtrusive Arousal Reduction as Craving Countermeasure

Addiction-related disease claims the lives of millions every year, and in addition causes great morbidity and disrupts many lives. Cravings for addictive substances due to chemical withdrawal or psychological factors make it difficult to maintain abstinence and successfully reduce or quit using the addictive substance. Existing digital methods used to help people overcome cravings in the moment involve either interacting with mobile application, text messaging, or utilizing relaxation breathing. These methods may be obtrusive and thus not viable for use in all locales or situations. A minimally obtrusive intervention could help people without taking them away from their immediate surroundings, allowing them to avoid retreating from work or social situations. Prior research by our group on arousal management has shown that offset heartbeat signals delivered through haptic feedback can reduce or increase heart rate and thus influence autonomic arousal. In this study, we aim to characterize whether offset heartbeat signals can mitigate the autonomic arousal induced by craving, and whether such intervention can affect the perceived level of craving. 

This work is in partner with Click Therapeutics.


Romotouch: Mindless and Intrinsically Pleasant Stress Intervention

Skin is the largest organ on the human body and hosts the system of sophisticated mechanoreceptors. Activation on the skin can create innately pleasant feelings and mitigate affects. How can we utilize touch, this central feeling to mammalian well-being, to mitigate stress?

This work is in collaboration with the amazing Yujie Tao, who’s applying for PhD this year.


PuffSensing: Predicting Craving and Using of Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS) with On-Body and Mobile Sensing for Young Adults

The use of e-cigarette, especially in younger population, is an increasing concern in United States. Based on the previously developed PuffPacket, an attachment to measure the usage of e-cigarette, we are conducting a study to explore how to predict when people use e-cigarette, and what signals are informative about the craving for e-cigarette. In addition to PuffPacket, we are developing a mobile sensing application to identify the lifestyle of the user, and to collect the user’s reflection of their vaping experience. We are deploying this study with a young adults population in urban area. We hope the findings of this study can help us predict the opportune moment for giving interventions to reduce or control e-cigarette usage.

[PuffPacket (developed by Alex Adams et al.)] [PuffSensing]