August 1, 2017 – Sapien Labs has entered into a collaboration with the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) to develop cognitive health assessment tools and EEG based metrics in young children. The goal of the collaboration is to enable community cognitive health assessments that are valid across a wide socioeconomic range and can be delivered cost efficiently at scale. The project is led by Dr. Vikram Patel, Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Adjunct Professor and Joint Director of the Centre for Chronic Conditions and Injuries at PHFI in India. The interdisciplinary team includes child development experts, psychologists, neuroscientists and community health workers and will take advantage of Sapien Labs’ platform Brainbase and its novel analytical tools for multidimensional EEG analysis.
Why a cognitive metric is important
India houses the largest number of children in the world. While the young population promises a future demographic dividend that could strengthen economic growth, an important first step is to ensure that children reach their optimal developmental potential and contribute to a productive workforce. An estimated 200 million children in low- and middle-income countries fail to reach their full development potential, with India contributing the highest numbers (65 million), leading to the inability to escape the vicious cycle of inter-generational poverty and a range of social disadvantages.
While physiological development of children is easily monitored through anthropometric measurements, there are currently no validated and scalable methods to assess cognitive development during early childhood, when brain development and plasticity is at its peak. Existing assessment methods for cognitive development are not scalable as they require time-consuming evaluations of child behavior by skilled professionals, often with the use of costly proprietary tools. Such methods are rarely accessible to children from large segments of our society and disadvantaged communities.
Further, the absence of monitoring and evaluation methods/devices limits our ability to understand the impact of interventions on cognitive health as well as to understand the complex relationships between behavior and lifestyle factors. Development of scalable cognitive assessments and their validation will enable exploration of these aspects.
PHFI is a public private partnershipworking to strengthen India’s public health institutional and systems capability and provide knowledge to achieve better health outcomes for all.
About Sapien Labs
Sapien Labs is not-for-profit organization established to amplify and accelerate human neuroscience for a more global and inclusive view of humanity.