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Technology & Psychopathology Lab


Mission: To ignite large-scale reductions in mental illness by harmonizing advances in technology with advances in psychology

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Technology & Psychopathology Lab


Mission: To ignite large-scale reductions in mental illness by harmonizing advances in technology with advances in psychology

What motivates us, and what we do

 

THe bottom line for psychopathology science so far:

Despite a massive amount of research, the rates of most mental illnesses have increased over the past few decades. Suicide rates have not declined; in fact, the U.S. suicide rate has increased by nearly 30% since the year 2000. Underlying assumptions about psychopathology and methods for studying it have changed little over the past few decades. We believe that, if we are to make progress, we must radically change how we think about, study, and apply knowledge about psychopathology. 

 

Our view of psychopathology science 30 years from now:

We envision a future where most forms of psychopathology are extremely rare (especially internalizing and externalizing disorders) and suicide is not among the top 100 causes of death (it is currently #10 overall).  We also envision several concomitant changes to psychopathology science. Our field will be fully integrated with basic psychological science and cutting-edge technology. Traditional 'simple and determinate' views of psychopathology will give way to a 'complex and indeterminate' view. Traditional human- and questionnaire-based assessments will give way to mass artificial intelligence assessments. Traditional in-person and pharmacological treatments will give way to mass AI-based virtual and mixed reality treatments that are personalized and adjusted on a moment-to-moment basis. 


Our efforts to realize this future:

Clearly, this vision is far from our current circumstances. The TAP Lab's goal is to make this future happen with a four-pronged strategy:

1. We summarize existing knowledge and integrate knowledge from other areas of science. This provides a foundation for everything that we do. In this stream of our work, we conduct large meta-analyses, review basic science and philosophy of science, and construct new paradigms and theories to make sense of the broad patterns we discover. Click here to read more about our previous and ongoing work in this area.

2. We try to advance knowledge by conducting our own studies. We are primarily interested in experimental designs (i.e., randomized/control groups, a manipulation, meaningful outcome variable) because these allow us to infer cause. A major focus of our recent work in this area is virtual reality because it provides the opportunity to approximate situations and behaviors that were previously impossible to approximate (e.g., suicide). In collaboration with Dr. Jessica Ribeiro's lab, we also conduct a range of machine learning-based studies. Click here to read more about our prior and ongoing work in this area.

3. We seek to apply knowledge on a mass scale by translating our work to the real world. So far, this stream of our work this has taken the form of novel treatment apps and efforts to develop AI-based suicide risk algorithms for large hospital systems. Click here to read more about our prior and ongoing work in this area.

4. We place great importance on training students to develop their own independent research programs that contribute to this vision. We don't believe in geniuses; we believe in hard work, dedication, and passion. Central to our mission is providing such individuals with the skills, support, and opportunities necessary to make a big impact on the world. Click here to read about our current lab members.

Given its deadliness and prevalence, our current focus is on applying this strategy to suicide.