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Behavioral Sensing

Dror Ben Zeev, PhD

David Atkins, PhD

Sara Kopelovich, PhD

Ben Buck, PhD


Auditory Verbal Hallucinations (AVH) occur in the context of a range of mental health conditions as well as in individuals who are otherwise considered healthy. AVH lead to significant distress, impairment, and need for care in some, but not others.

The RDoC framework is ideally suited to better understand the phenomenology of AVH as they may be part of a continuum of psychotic experience ranging from “normal” to pathological. Building on the principles of the RDoC framework, this project focuses on AVH as part of the broader construct of Auditory Perception and leverages an integrative multi-method paradigm leveraging measures from two RDoC units of analysis: Self-Report and Behavior.

Our multidisciplinary investigative team is using integrated mobile data collection techniques piloted extensively (Ecological Momentary Assessment for self-report and automated multi-modal sensing to capture behavior) to study AVH experience and associated behaviors, as they occur in real-time/real-place in people with and without need for care.

Funding by: National Institute of Mental Health

Persecutory ideation (PI), or a continuum of thoughts related to harm from others, is elevated in a range of psychiatric conditions and in up to 20% of the general population. These thoughts can range from slightly elevated concerns about threats, to the distressing and disruptive delusions that are common in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders.

Recent developments in mobile technology allow – for the first time – a real-time, real-place window into the dynamic emergence of PI. The project will remotely recruit 200 individuals with clinically significant persecutory ideation to engage with an integrated mobile health assessment system combining brief self-report and passive sensors for one month. The research team will explore these data to identify potential factors associated with PI emergence, maintenance, and exacerbation as well as potential targets for intervention development. Recruiting individuals remotely also provides the opportunity to compare individuals with PI who seek treatment to those who do not, examining potential demographics, clinical characteristics, or beliefs that determine help-seeking in this population.

Funding by: National Institute of Mental Health and the Brain and Behavior Foundation NARSAD Young Investigator Award to Dr. Ben Buck.


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