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Fast Company

“The Guardians: Unite the Realms,” a video game developed by Media Lab developer Craig Ferguson, has been awarded Fast Company’s 20201 Innovation by Design award in the Wellness category. The game employs behavioral activation techniques to address mental health, allowing players to advance when they’ve completed tasks such as going on a walk or drawing a picture.

Boston Globe

Writing for The Boston Globe, Gregg Martin SM ’88, PhD ’92, a retired two-star Army general and former president of the National Defense University, shares his concern for the mental health of Afghanistan war veterans. “While most troops are justifiably proud of what they did at the tactical, local level, they’re now seeing their efforts go up in smoke,” writes Martin. “They’re angry, sad, hurting, and confused, and I fear that the mental health of some of them will unravel so unrelentingly they’ll take their own lives.”

Wired

Wired reporter Matt Reynolds spotlights how several MIT researchers have been studying the neurological impacts of loneliness and social isolation.

Forbes

Forbes contributor Jack Kelly spotlights Ginger, an MIT startup that has created “a smartphone-based technology app helps identify patterns of anxiety, stress and depression.”

Smithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian reporter Rasha Aridi writes that MIT researchers have found that longing for social interaction elicits a similar neurological response to a hungry person craving food. The researchers found that “after a day of fasting, they noted that they were uncomfortable and had intense food cravings. After social isolation, they felt lonely and unhappy and yearned for interactions.”

Fortune

A new study by MIT researchers finds that lack of social contact can lead many people to crave interactions in a similar manner as they do when experiencing hunger, reports Katherine Dunn for Fortune. The researchers found that “10 hours without any social contact, for many people, led to a kind of psychological and physical craving that's on the same level of intensity as 10 waking hours without food.”

Inverse

MIT researchers have uncovered evidence that humans crave social contact in the same way they crave food, reports Ali Pattillo for Inverse. The study, “provides empirical support for the idea that loneliness acts as a signal – just like hunger – that signals to an individual that something is lacking and that it needs to take action to repair that," explains former MIT postdoc Livia Tomova.

Forbes

A new center established at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research is aimed at accelerating the development of novel therapies and technologies, writes Katie Jennings for Forbes. The hope is that “we can identify common pathways, either a common molecular pathway that's a chokepoint for a therapy or a common group of neurons or neural systems,” says Prof. Robert DeSimone, director of the McGovern Institute.

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Felice Freyer writes about the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Center for Molecular Therapeutics in Neuroscience, which was established at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research thanks to a $28 million gift from philanthropist Lisa Yang and MIT alumnus Hock Tan ’75. “The center will develop tools to precisely target the malfunctioning genes and neurons underpinning brain disorders,” writes Freyer.

NBC Mach

Prof. Rosalind Picard speaks with NBC Mach reporter Jessica Wapner about how wearable devices could be used to help detect and predict episodes of depression. “We’d love to get to you before you get depressed,” explains Picard, “and help you put things back in your life before you get in trouble.”

HealthDay News

HealthDay reporter Steven Reinberg writes that a new study by Prof. Siqi Zheng finds that air pollution can make people unhappy. Zheng found that, “On days with high levels of pollution, people are more likely to engage in impulsive and risky behavior that they may later regret, possibly because of short-term depression and anxiety,” writes Reinberg.

Inverse

Inverse reporter Emma Betuel reports on a new study by MIT researchers showing that air quality impacts the happiness of people living in cities in China. “When the air is polluted people stay home, they don’t go out, and they order food delivery while staying home playing computer games and shopping online,” explains Prof. Siqi Zheng.

Fast Company

By analyzing posts on social media in China, Prof. Siqi Zheng has found that air pollution can cause increased levels of depression and unhappiness, reports Adele Peters for Fast Company. “We want to show that there’s a wider range of the social cost of air pollution,” explains Zheng.

The Wall Street Journal

In an article for The Wall Street Journal, Benjamin Powers highlights Affectiva and Koko, two MIT startups developing AI systems that respond to human emotions.

Smithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian reporter Randy Rieland writes that MIT researchers have developed a machine learning model that can detect speech and language patterns associated with depression. The researchers note that the system is intended to assist, not replace clinicians. “We’re hopeful we can provide a complementary form of analysis,” explains Senior Research Scientist James Glass.