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Happy? Sad? Study Uses AI To Examine What Affects Our Emotions

Dallas Innovates

Lance Murray

Participants in this 45-day study will track their emotions in real time using the Mindcurrent app and Apple Watch data.Center for BrainHealth® at The University of Texas at Dallas is teaming up with Mindcurrent, a Portland, Oregon-based wellness startup, on a 45-day study that utilizes new artificial intelligence technology to chart human emotions in real time.  The study is expected to follow 30 to 50 participants — mostly UTD students — to track their emotions as they occur using Mindcurrent’s app. Participants will correlate their input with behavioral, biometric, environmental, and activity data drawn from Apple Watch products. The Mindcurrent app tracks self-reported emotions through a smartphone or smartwatch to create an encrypted data stream. Artificial intelligence uses this information for data analysis, providing recommendations that can elevate the user’s mood and well-being.  “The approach of gathering and analyzing moment-by-moment biometric data has a lot of potential for cognitive neuroscience research and offers an innovative application for AI,” said Daniel Krawczyk, deputy director at Center for BrainHealth. The study will track how participants adjust their emotions by using short personalized videos suggested by the app’s algorithm. Researchers will cross-reference user input with location and activity data to determine what factors may have contributed to their positive/negative emotional states, taking 60 days to analyze results, form conclusions, and publish findings. University students are ideal participants since stress is a well-known issue among them, according to Stephen White, executive director of the center’s translational arm.


“Given stress predictors like midterms and final exams, studying student emotions and behaviors during these peak-stress times may lead to solutions for more productive and successful learning environments,” White said. “With this study, we also hope to observe the effectiveness of real-time mindfulness and cognitive training exercises such as those delivered by the Brain Performance Institute.”
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Participants will track their emotions during the day using the app.

Participants will track their emotions during the day. [Photo: Courtesy UT Dallas]

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Daniel Krawczyk, PhD

Deputy Director of Research Debbie and Jim Francis Chair and Professor, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Stephen B. White, JD

Chief Operating Officer


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