Experts in neuroscience, behavioral medicine, and psychological therapies are increasingly exploring ways to use technology to treat PTSD and anxiety disorders.
One area of focus is the use of technology to reduce fear, which is what happened when a group of scientists from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and a handful of neuroscience researchers turned to a technology called clinique.
The research has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and Wired.
Now, two UCSF researchers, David Fruchter and James W. Molloy, are leading a group at UCSF called the Clinique Smart Clinic to explore how to use the clinique technology to help people with PTSD.
“We think it is really important that clinicians understand how to apply the cliniques technology,” says Fruchanter.
He and Mollow started out with the goal of developing a device that would allow PTSD sufferers to learn how to recognize and identify cues in their environment that trigger fear, or to identify what triggers their fear.
“So we designed the device so that people could recognize that the speaker was talking to them, and they could respond to it,” Fruchi says.
“They would have to do that by seeing the device.”
The clinique device was developed in collaboration with Dr. Sarah Rieger, who has worked with the UCSF Neuropsychiatric Clinic.
In a recent paper published in the journal Psychological Medicine, Riefer and her team used the cliniques technology to develop a new test that they call the “Familiarization and Response Task.”
The familiarization and response task measures the ability of a person to recognize specific types of stimuli that trigger their fear and how they respond to them.
Fruchtter and Mollaoy used the device to identify people who were fearful of the same speech stimuli, and then they developed a test to measure their response.
The participants in the test were then asked to respond to each speaker’s speech using a visual analog scale, which was used to classify them as having a “Frequent Exposure to Fear Scale” (FEMA).
They then rated the responses of the participants on a scale of 1 to 5 on a 0-100 scale.
Fruits of the research, according to Fruchin, included identifying people who reported having fear of a certain speaker as having higher “Frequency Exposure to fear” scores.
“The way we did it is by having participants see a picture of a different speaker and to identify the different cues that trigger the fear and to recognize when they could use these cues to trigger fear,” Fruck says.
The results showed that, while the participants had difficulty identifying cues, they were able to recognize the speech and respond to the speaker’s tone and speech cues.
The cliniques test allowed the researchers to use this to identify cues that could trigger fear in PTSD suffenders.
Fuhrer and Molnoy have also published a paper on their study in the Journal of Neuroscience, showing that by applying the clinician-assisted technology to their PTSD patients, the PTSD sufferer could be successfully treated.
Fearing that their treatment could lead to a relapse, some people in the group had difficulty accepting the diagnosis of PTSD, and the group treated their symptoms with medication.
However, the study showed that they were significantly more likely to get the disorder under control.
The next step in the research is to test if the technology can be applied to other people suffering from PTSD.
Fucchter says that he hopes that using the cliniqas technology can help people identify cues and triggers that trigger PTSD, but he says that the results may not be entirely definitive.
“If we could identify that these triggers are triggering something else, we could start looking for other things,” he says.
And the clinixes technology has limitations, he adds.
The device does not work for people with anxiety, which makes the device particularly challenging to administer to people who have anxiety or other psychological disorders.
Fuyter hopes that the technology will eventually be used to help treat anxiety and PTSD.
As Fruchoft explains, it can be hard to find clinicians who have the expertise and background to help with PTSD, so the researchers have partnered with the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) to offer free clinique training.
The clinicians can use the technology to identify triggers and cues that may trigger PTSD in their patients, and to train their patients in the art of recognizing these cues.
“I think the clinicalists will have a lot of great ideas for helping people with these types of disorders,” Fuhrch says.
As for the UCSFs use of the technology, the researchers hope to apply their findings to the UBS clinical trial to treat patients with posttraumatic stress disorder, which will be completed in 2020. They also