Announcements

Rapid Report: Adult Mental Wellbeing After Abuse and Assault in Childhood

Washington, D.C., January 17, 2023 – Recent data highlight a stark decline in the mental health of younger generations globally. Uncovering the root causes of this decline is a core goal of Sapien Labs. Here we report startling evidence of the increased prevalence of childhood abuse, assault and bullying reported by young adults. Based on a survey of 286,732 people across the Internet-enabled population of 27 countries in 2022, the rates of those who report having experienced abuse, assault or bullying in childhood is three to five-fold higher in the youngest generation of adults (18-24) relative to their parents and grandparents (age 55+). In contrast, the experience of the death of a parent or sibling during childhood has declined.

Among young adults aged 18-24, those who experienced physical abuse/assault or sexual abuse/assault in childhood had the worst mental wellbeing with the majority experiencing debilitating mental health challenges. Those who experienced childhood cyberbullying were not far behind with the majority also experiencing negative mental health. In contrast those who had lost a parent or sibling experienced a far lesser impact on their mental health.

Click here to read the report.

Posted on January 17, 2023 Continue Reading

The Sapien Labs Centre for Human Brain and Mind Inaugurated at Krea University

Chennai, India, August 4, 2022 – Krea University and Sapien Labs have collaborated to establish a centre for research and learning related to the human brain and mind. The Sapien Labs Centre for Human Brain and Mind at Krea University was inaugurated by K VijayRaghavan, Former Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.

The Centre seeks to track and understand the impact of the changing environment on the human brain and its consequences for the individual and society so that it can be managed to mitigate risks and enhance outcomes. The collaboration will bring together cross-disciplinary faculty, large-scale acquisition of multi-dimensional human physiological data, cutting edge data workflows, and engagement with the non-profit, start-up, and government sectors.

Click here to read more.

Posted on August 5, 2022 Continue Reading

Rapid Report: Population Mental Health and Firearm Deaths Across Countries

Washington, D.C., July 5, 2022 – Firearm deaths due to physical violence dominate homicides in the United States and are anywhere from 8 to 97 times higher per 100k population compared to other countries in the Core Anglosphere and Europe with similar per capita GDP and Internet penetration levels. On the other hand, the USA has higher mental wellbeing and lower levels of self-reported feelings of aggression than many of these countries. When viewed together, across these countries, neither the rates of mental distress nor self reported aggression correlate with firearm death due to physical violence. This lack of correlation suggests that improving mental health is unlikely to have any systematic impact on firearm homicide rates, although may impact other factors such as rates of sexual assault that have been shown to have strong correlations to mental health in the 2021 Mental State of the World Report. We note that the rate of civilian gun ownership across these same countries is significantly correlated with firearm homicide rates. One possible interpretation is thus that while those who commit firearm homicide are clearly mentally distressed or disturbed, those who are mentally distressed are not likely to commit firearm homicide unless there is an easy availability and cultural permissiveness surrounding firearms.

Click here to read the data sheet.

Posted on July 5, 2022 Continue Reading

Sapien Labs Releases Mental State of the World Report 2021

Washington D.C., March 15, 2022 – Sapien Labs, a non-profit research organization focused on tracking changes in the mind and brain, has released its 2nd Annual Mental State of the World Report (MSW).

The MSW report is the world’s largest and most comprehensive global mental wellbeing study, drawing on insights from 223,000 respondents across 34 countries between January 1 and December 31 2021. 

It utilizes the Mental Health Quotient (MHQ), an open online anonymous survey that takes 15 minutes to complete and returns overall wellbeing scores. Scores are on a positive-negative scale where positive scores represent a normal range of functioning while negative scores indicate a negative impact of mental health on the ability to function normally. Key findings of the report are as follows:

A smaller decline compared to 2020

Global mental wellbeing continued to decline in 2021. However, at 3%, it was a smaller decline compared to the 8% drop in 2020. The declines across both years were significantly correlated to the stringency of government Covid-measures, particularly for the 18-34 age group.

Poorest mental wellbeing in the Core Anglosphere 

Latin American and Continental European countries had the best mental wellbeing overall, while countries in the Core-Anglosphere as well as other English-speaking countries had the poorest mental wellbeing. The Core Anglosphere particularly scored lower than all other regions on the dimension of Social Self – how we view ourselves and our ability to form and maintain strong and stable relationships with others, as well as Mood and Outlook. Poor MHQ scores were correlated with country-level cultural indicators of Performance Orientation and Individualism as well as key economic indicators such as GDP per capita.

 A profound generational decline in young people is prevalent across every country

The report reveals that the alarming decline in the mental health of young people is a global phenomenon. Nearly half of young people (44%) had mental health issues in the “distressed” or “struggling” ranges, compared to just 7% of those 65+. Worryingly, just 19% of 18-24 year olds had “thriving” or “succeeding” mental wellbeing scores.  

This stands in stark contrast to studies prior to 2010 where young adults typically scored highest on various happiness and well being scales. Of various potential causal factors, we highlight the rapid growth of mobile phones and the internet as the one consistent trend across all countries after 2010. 

A small but persistent gender gap, highest in Latin America 

In general, males had slightly higher mental wellbeing than females – a gap that was highest for young adults 18-24. Across all age groups, this gap was highest in Latin America and smallest for the Core Anglosphere. Alarmingly, those who identified as nonbinary (<1%) had the poorest mental wellbeing, with 51% distressed or struggling at a clinical level. 

Education and employment are key factors of mental wellbeing

Mental wellbeing increased systematically with higher levels of education for all regions of the world. There was also a substantially higher mental wellbeing among those employed compared to those unemployed or not able to work. This difference was higher in the Core Anglosphere compared to other regions of the world. 

Altogether, the mental wellbeing gap between older and younger generations was the most profound (30%) compared to any other dimension examined from education, employment, gender or country-to-country and warrants active and urgent attention.  

Tara Thiagarajan, Founder and Chief Scientist at Sapien Labs, said:  “This year, the results quite honestly surprised us. It is the first view of the magnitude of differences in mental wellbeing across age groups, genders and countries.  Overall the findings were surprising and left us to ponder that perhaps our systems of economic growth, values of individualism and a shift from in-person to largely digital interaction fosters an environment of poor mental wellbeing.  This data makes clear that, to nurture the human spirit, we need a new paradigm.”

For press enquiries, email grig@sapienlabs.org. High resolution images, graphics, logo and other assets are available here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1b5KzEEe-yvbcUdHaqNcL8x-QG1l4mW8V Please reach out to callyn@sapienlabs.org to arrange any interviews.

Posted on March 14, 2022 Continue Reading

Sapien Labs launches the Mental State of the World Report 2020

March 15, 2020 –  Sapien Labs announces the launch of its inaugural Mental State of the World Report for 2020.  This report is the first annual report of the Mental Health Million project providing a view of mental wellbeing trends across eight English speaking countries.

The Mental Health Million project was conceived as a public interest project to enable a comprehensive view of the evolving mental wellbeing of our world so that we can better manage it both individually and collectively. Mental wellbeing extends beyond our feelings of happiness or life satisfaction to encompass the breadth of our emotional, social and cognitive function and capabilities. The project utilizes a uniquely designed online assessment called the Mental Health Quotient, or MHQ.  The MHQ scores mental wellbeing based on a comprehensive list of capabilities or assets as well as challenges that encompass symptoms across ten major mental health disorders, to reflect the spectrum of mental wellbeing across the general population.  Furthermore, by incorporating demographic and life experience elements it can be used to gain deep insights into what drives our mental wellbeing status.

This report includes ~49,000 responses, providing comparisons of aggregate mental wellbeing and its six functional dimensions by countries, age groups and gender, with a particular focus this year on the impact of major lifestyle factors and Covid-19 related adversities and traumas. While the data represented in this report was collected beginning in April following the start of the Covid-19 lockdowns, a few thousand people were surveyed in 2019 offering a point of comparison. While it is clear that Covid has had, and continues to have, a significant impact on our mental wellbeing, the data tells a story of more long-term global challenges, only exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic.

The report is available at mentalstateoftheworld.report

Posted on March 15, 2021 Continue Reading

Sapien Labs launches the Mental Health Million project

May 05, 2020  Sapien Labs announces the launch of the Mental Health Million Project to map the evolving mental wellbeing of the global population.  Using the unique Mental Health Quotient (MHQ) assessment tool, collected data will assess how individuals stand on a normal spectrum of wellbeing and identify those at risk of a clinical disorder. It will also identify drivers of mental wellbeing that can guide more effective policy and intervention.
The existing national mental health crisis has been exacerbated by the current COVID-19 pandemic. A recent American Psychiatric Association poll reported 36% of Americans identified the pandemic as seriously impacting their mental health. Understanding the evolving state of mental wellbeing is imperative now more than ever.  The MHQ therefore specifically probes individual experience of the COVID-19 pandemic such as illness, losing loved ones, isolation or lost employment to understand how the pandemic and its repercussions are impacting mental wellness.

Sapien Labs hopes many individuals will participate in the Mental Health Million Project by taking the MHQ, and also help spread the word by sharing the assessment link at sapienlabs.org/mhq/.  The MHQ can be completed anonymously and takes less than 15 minutes.  An overall mental health score is provided at the end and those who provide an email after completion receive a detailed report providing their scores in six categories giving insight into an individual’s cognitive abilities; emotional regulation and outlook; the perception of self; the nature of relationships with others; and the connection between mind and body.

“Importantly, the MHQ is not an assessment of happiness or life satisfaction, but of the ability to cope with life and its challenges,” stresses Dr. Jennifer Newson, Sapien Labs’ Lead Scientist for Mental Health.  It can however evolve with circumstance and Individuals should take the assessment at different time intervals.”

Sapien Labs also invites partnerships from local governments and other mental health organizations to help build a deeply insightful view of our evolving collective mental wellbeing.

Posted on May 5, 2020 Continue Reading

MHQ featured on Docu-mental, A Podcast by Whitney Fishburn

May 2, 2020 – Sapien Labs’ MHQ and the underlying work describing the heterogeneity of mental health disorders on Frontiers in Psychiatry is featured on podcast series Docu-mental: mapping Americans states of mind by Whitney Fishburn.  The podcast is titled: Brain science is showing what “normal” mental health is. Can it also help us evolve humankind?  Listen to it here.

Posted on May 2, 2020 Continue Reading

Introducing the Mental Health Quotient (MHQ)

Sapien Labs has published a new tool that provides a general assessment of mental well-being called the Mental Health Quotient (MHQ). The tool will be used to sample mental health and ill-health across a large cross section of the global population to aid our understanding of the spectrum of mental well-being.

July 25, 2019 – The MHQ assessment tool is based on self report and was developed by reviewing over 120 different clinical questionnaires and interviews available within the scientific literature to build a comprehensive categorization of mental functions and symptoms (Newson et al., Frontiers in Psychiatry). The final assessment tool takes 12-15 minutes to complete and spans the full breadth of mental functions and symptoms associated with common mental health disorders. It contains 26 questions that focus on mental functions which can either be problems or assets, and 21 questions that focus on specific categories of problems that are associated with disorders. It also collects demographic and situational information to accompany the core part of the assessment.

The resulting score or MHQ consists of a composite score on a scale of -100 to +200 along with subscores across 6 categories on a scale of -50 to +100.  The specific subscores provide an insight into an individual’s cognitive abilities (core and complex), emotional regulation and outlook, the perception of self, the nature of relationships with others and the connection between mind and body. The scoring mechanism is nonlinear in nature and takes into consideration various factors including the severity of consequences and inter-relationships.

More often, discussions on mental health focus around the diagnosis of specific disorders, but the development of a disorder independent tool allows us to gain a more detailed insight into the entire spectrum of mental wellbeing, from positive function to dysfunction, and can have application both within and outside the clinic.

A trial public version is available here.

Posted on July 25, 2019 Continue Reading

Virtual Symposiums on EEG and Inter-Person Variability

March 24, 2019 – Sapien Labs will host virtual symposiums on various themes with the goal of bringing together cross disciplinary perspectives on significant questions relating to the human brain.  Particularly the themes will relate to emerging approaches to measuring, studying and altering the human brain, the inter- and intra- person variability in brain activity and function, and their consequences.

These conferences, each on a specialized topic, will feature a series of short talks over two days along with Q&A.  The virtual format provides a cost-effective way for people from around the world to attend and interact with one another during interactive open floors following each session.  Recorded talks will be made available to conference attendees for viewing after the symposium to ensure that registered attendees do not have to miss a talk due to conflicting schedules or time zones.

The first symposium titled EEG: Analytical Approaches and Applications will take place on June 6-7, 2019 and will be organized into sessions around four themes.

  • Potential Biomarkers and Applications of EEG
    Recent advances in the prediction of brain states such as pain, fatigue, sleep, anesthesia and cognitive health
  • Novel Analytical Approaches to the EEG Signal
    New ways to look at the EEG signal, particularly showcasing ideas from other fields such as LFP analysis and speech processing.
  • Common Methods, Challenges and Pitfalls in EEG Analysis
    These tutorial style sessions will cover common methods used in EEG analysis and some of the methodological challenges and pitfalls that can arise.
  • EEG Resources, Toolkits and Repositories
    Presentations of various code libraries, pipelines, data repositories and other resources for EEG.

Registration opens April 10th.

Posted on March 25, 2019 Continue Reading

EEG Frequency Bands and Mental Health Disorders

Sapien Labs’ review in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience covers resting state analysis of EEG relating to to 10 mental health disorders across 184 papers revealing that many disorders have the same profile, and pointing to an immense inconsistency in both methods and results across the literature.

EEG frequency band analysis, commonly referred to as delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma waves, is a brain imaging technique commonly used to investigate changes in resting-state brain signals in patients with mental health disorders, and to support the potential development of therapeutic and diagnostic biomarkers. The use of frequency bands, however, evolved from a pre-computer era, and has resulted in the arbitrary division of the brain’s electrical activity into five macro bands, which demonstrate wide variation across the neuroscience research community.

The ease of splicing up the frequency spectrum into these macro bands has also encouraged the emergence of myths, propagated in popular media and scientific literature, as to the significance and function of each of these bands (for example beta being commonly associated with alertness, alpha with relaxation). Furthermore, from a clinical perspective, the pattern of activity within these bands has gained particular relevance to disorders such as ADHD, where the ratio of theta to beta has been approved by the FDA as a diagnostic marker, despite considerable criticism. This raises a question as to the value of this commonly used approach.

In this review recently published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Sapien Labs takes a cross-disorder perspective by reviewing 184 studies, spanning ten mental health disorders including ADHD, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, panic disorder  to determine whether the patterns of frequency band change are unique to particular disorders, or whether they are more generic across disorders – in other words, can resting-state frequency band analysis deliver disorder specific EEG signatures?

The review also covers the variety of methodological disparities in the literature and therefore inconsistencies in results that make it difficult to draw reliable conclusions.

Read the results here.

 

 

Posted on January 10, 2019 Continue Reading

Sapien Labs welcomes its first Neurolab partner in Sudan

We are delighted to announce The University of Khartoum in Sudan as our Neurolab partner.

The University of Khartoum is the oldest Universitiy in Sudan with a student body of approximately 25,000.  The University has a diverse range of programs in the Physical Sciences, Agricultural and Biological Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.  The Neurolab program will seed a human neuroscience program within the department of Physics with participation of students and faculty from multiple disciplines including physics, electrical engineering, Biology, Mathematical sciences, computer sciences and medicine.

As part of the Neurolab program, faculty and students will be trained in basics of Neuroscience along with data collection and analysis techniques in human EEG.  It will also develop a robust research program that seeks to build an understanding of brain disorders across Sudan’s diverse population and raise awareness of brain health in Sudan.  The Neurolab program will integrate with ongoing rural health outreach programs conducted by the students and faculty of medicine and dentistry.

Sudan’s 42 million strong population is 67% rural and consists of more than 597 tribes that speak more than 400 dialects and languages.  Khartoum, as its largest city, is also home to over a million refugees from the southern war zone and the drought-affected regions of the country.

The program will be headed by Dr. Yousuf Hasan Yousuf Bakhit, a lecturer of Medical Biochemistry at faculty of Dentistry with whose research presently spans several aspects in clinical neuroscience and neurogenetics.

 

 

Posted on August 16, 2018 Continue Reading

Brainbase Now Open for a Sneak Peek Inside

Brainbase is data management and sharing/ collaboration platform for EEG with access to EEG related protocols and resources and sophisticated metadata handling including data linking, validation and search features.  Brainbase is still in beta and by invitation only as we continue to refine metadata handling mechanisms and fix bugs and upload over 40,000 public datasets.  In the meantime, we have now enabled a look inside feature and invite feedback.  Try it now!

Posted on February 25, 2018 Continue Reading

Sapien Labs Welcomes its First Neurolab Partner in Brazil

December 22, 2017 – Sapien Labs welcomes its first Neurolab partner in Brazil headed by Dr. Felipe Beijamini at the Universidade Federal de Fronteira Sul.  The Federal University is a broad system with campuses in six cities.  Realeza where Beijamini is located is a small, rural town located in the southwest region of the Paraná state of Brazil.  The surrounding economy is very agriculture dependent but has a high human development index compared to other regions of Brazil.

Dr. Beijamini studies the ecology of sleep, particularly how different environments, lifestyle and life conditions influence sleep physiology and the impact of different sleep patterns on health and memory consolidation. In a recent study conducted in Brazil Beijamini has characterized sleep patterns of over 1300 participants with different profiles.  He has also been involved with a study that relates genetic ancestry with chronotype identifying clear differences.

Dr. Beijamini’s work has taken him further than his University town in Brazil. He has also conducted research in Mozambique, using actygraphy recordings to compare sleep patterns a newly modernizing African town to a nearby village that is yet to modernize.  The study demonstrated that access to electricity delayed sleep but that intense physical labour and less comfortable sleeping arrangements contributed to poorer sleep in the village showing that modernization does have benefits for sleep. His main take away message is that environment matters in sleep. How else, he wonders, might environment impact the human brain and experience?

As a Neurolab partner, Dr. Beijamini will add EEG to his research with a particular interest in taking typically lab based paradigms out into the field to understand differences between reported sleep quality, EEG patterns and cognitive outcomes.  Particularly,  these studies will shed further light on the differences on rural and urban environments on human sleep patterns and their cognitive consequences.

Posted on January 4, 2018 Continue Reading

Brainbase wins Brainnovation Harnessing Big Data

Dec 7, 2017  – Sapien Labs was at the Sharp Brains Summit yesterday and won the Brainnovation harnessing Big Data for its work on Brainbase.  The 2017 SharpBrains Virtual Summit hosted by Sharp Brains focused on the future of brain enhancement, particularly ways to enhance brain health and performance in light of emerging neuroscience and digital technologies.

Posted on December 7, 2017 Continue Reading

Public Lecture at Macquarie University in Sydney

October 20, 2017 – Tara Thiagarajan, Founder and Chief Scientist of Sapien Labs will give a public lecture at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia on October 25, 2017 from 5:30 – 7:30.  The talk, which is open to anyone with registration, will follow a seminar to the Cognitive Science department titled ‘From Brain Dynamics to Cognition’ focusing on new analytical approaches to brain signals.  It will also be followed on the 26th of October with a preview workshop on Brainbase.

Posted on October 20, 2017 Continue Reading

Sapien Labs wins MIT SOLVE Brain Health Challenge

September 17, 2017  –  The Neurolab Seed program of Sapien Labs won the MIT SOLVE Brain Health Challenge.  As an MIT Solve Challenge winner,  Sapien Labs become part of the SOLVE Community working to further the larger goal of brain health and mental well-being for all. The final event was held at the Apella center in New York on September 17, 2017.

The Neurolab solution provides a research platform to accelerate and amplify human neuroscience by making it easy for non-neuroscientists operating in underrepresented regions of the world to quickly and cost effectively become productive EEG researchers.   Neurolab Seed accomplishes this through a startup kit that provides EEG equipment, access to Brainbase (brainbase.io) a collaborative research and data management platform, analytical tools, video based tutorials and online workshops.  The program aims to contribute to our understanding of brain health by creating a global open access EEG database that is representative of diverse populations around the world.  Today, the vast majority of data on the human brain comes from educated populations in wealthy, industrial nations and is not representative of the brain’s diversity worldwide. However, preliminary research has revealed much larger divergence in brain activity across human populations than previously thought.  Neurolab Seed will expand understanding of the human brain across diverse populations, enabling a more inclusive and large scale view of the brain function and health.  In helping researchers around the world to collect EEG data of diverse minds outside of the West, Sapien Labs will bring brain diversity to the forefront of the discussion, helping people from all corners of the Earth to benefit from our understanding of the brain.

SOLVE is an MIT initiative to connect innovators with the network and resources they need to succeed in solving global problems. They aim to identify the best, most actionable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, bring these trailblazers together, and create a community of changemakers intent upon piloting innovative solutions. The Brain Health Solve Challenge was an open global call to submit solutions to the issue of brain health and mental well-being.  The brain health initiative of SOLVE aims to:

  • Empower people anywhere in the world to improve their overall brain health and fitness, mental well-being, and mental resilience
  • Enable earlier and more accurate diagnosis of problems
  • Increase access to and efficacy of treatments
  • Help build a positive, stigma-free culture in which all people feel empowered to proactively seek better brain health and mental fitness

Working together with other innovators in the field, Sapien Labs is excited to amplify its efforts to bring inclusive insights and understanding of the brain.

Posted on September 18, 2017 Continue Reading

Community Cognitive Health Collaboration with PHFI

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.

About PHFI

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.

Posted on August 1, 2017 Continue Reading

Sapien Labs releases study on modernization and the human brain

April 10, 2017 – Sapien Labs’ Human Brain Diversity Project is establishing a platform that enableslarge scale collaborative study of EEG activity across diverse populations around the world in order tounderstand the spectrum of dynamical properties of the human brain. By nature, the brain is an experience-dependent organ that is designed to constantly reconfigure itself based on sensory input it receives, integrating every experience into its fabric.

With diverse languages, cultures, social structures, educations, occupations, physical environments, incomes and access and use of technology our experiences vary widely.

Through the Human Brain Diversity Project, we seek to tease out some of these differences by changing the way the human brain is studied. We are working against the trends of small sample sizes, lack of standardization across data, and location of studies, where 75% occur in Europe or the United States.

Our newly released study focuses on the profound impact that modernization – the advent of large urban agglomeration and technology – has had on the human brain. Based in the State of Tamil Nadu, India, the study measured EEG activity in 402 people across 48 settlements in India ranging from small, remote settlements with no access to electricity, telecommunication or motorized transport to large urban hubs. A few key findings include:

  • There is an exceptionally strong link between context and brain dynamics: fundamental features of brain activity scaled in lock step with access to elements of modernization.
  • Modernization has made our brains more complex, with geofootprint or extent of travel being more tightly coupled to this aspect than any other factor measured.
  • The strength of the alpha oscillation, a feature related to attention, was closely related to fuel consumption, a proxy for the speed at which we experience the world.
  • Some features of the EEG varied as much as 1000-fold across the sample population suggesting that there is no meaningful dynamical average
  • An income threshold in the range of $30-$50/day was required to reach modern dynamical parity

The original papers are below and available on BioRxiv:
Complexity of EEG reflects Socioeconomic Context and Geofootprint
Modernization, Wealth and the Emergence of Strong Alpha Oscillations in the EEG
Dynamical Features of Human EEG Scale Systematically with Life Context

View video on recruitment of participants

These findings support the premise that there is no average brain – our brains are as diverse as we are, and depend profoundly on the contexts we live in. The implications are wide reaching, from how we approach development to learning and how we understand ourselves individually and collectively.

The entire dataset is now over 1000 EEG recordings across about 500 people during one or more of five conditions (eyes open, eyes closed, passive viewing of pictures, rapid recall task, working memory and pattern recognition), and continues to grow. Our partnership with Argentina’s Universidad Nacional de San Martin (UNSAM) will expand the dataset over the next year to include diverse populations in South America.

The dataset will be freely available and searchable through Sapien Labs platform when it launches. Before that date, interested researchers can send data requests to us at data@sapienlabs.org. As the Human Brain Diversity database expands we look forward to working with additional global collaborative partners.

Posted on April 1, 2017 Continue Reading

The Human Brain Diversity Project launches in South America

March 8, 2017 – Sapien Labs, a not-for-profit developing an open data platform to understand the dynamical properties of the human brain across diverse global populations, announces the launch of The Human Brain Diversity Project in South America, in partnership with the Universidad Nacional de San Martin (UNSAM) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This ambitious research is a first of its kind initiative that has been established to promote deeper understanding of the scope of diversity in the human brain.

The human brain distinguishes us from each other and from other species. Most studies of the brain, however have small sample sizes and occur in the United States or Europe. Additionally, a lack of experimental standards has made data from different sources difficult to compare.

The strategic partnership with UNSAM is the first of many to come for Sapien Labs and will contribute to building a large scale global dataset to enable insights into what drives the behavior of our brains and also how that behavior informs who we are. In order to facilitate globally diverse partnerships, Sapien Labs has developed standardized experimental paradigms with protocols and survey tools that are compatible across cultures and languages.

The project in Argentina is housed within the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies in Complex Systems and Brain Sciences (CEMSC3) at UNSAM. Under the guidance of the Director of the Center, Dr. Dante Chialvo, a top international neuroscientist with over 100 published scientific studies, Dr. Nadia Justel, who runs a cognitive neuroscience lab,will lead the project and has organized a team of local scientists and PhD students from various backgrounds to support the initiative.

“UNSAM is particularly well positioned with its interdisciplinary approach and growing expertise in both neuroscience and complex systems to enable interesting insights,” Dr. Chialvo explains. “The organization is young, dynamic, and at the forefront of academic research.”

Argentina also offers an ideal demographic for diversity research. “South America is highly underrepresented in human neuroscience,” says Dr. Thiagarajan, Founder and Chief Scientist of Sapien Labs, “Given its diverse and distinct populations and geographyfrom mountains to grasslands and tundra, Argentina will provide important insights into the diversity of humanity.”

The partnership between UNSAM in Argentina and Sapien Labs will provide important groundwork for additional research initiatives both within and beyond Argentina to understanding human diversity and behavior.

About Sapien Labs

Sapien Labs is a non-profit organization founded in 2016that aims to foster collaboration among neuroscientists worldwide with a cutting edge technology platform and tools that can harness our collective power to better understand the human brain at large scale.

About UNSAM

Established in 1992, Universidad Nacional de San Martin is an Argentinian State University with a student population of ~19,000 and an academic body of over 600 professors and researchers. UNSAM is known for strong, research-led partnerships across multiple disciplines including, science and technology, medical sciences, humanities and social sciences, and the arts.

Media Contact: Susan Williams
Susan@sapienlabs.org
646-753-0336

Posted on March 7, 2017 Continue Reading