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Stress response

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Media Lab researchers have developed a desk that transforms based on the user’s mood, reports Madis Kabash for Quartz. Kabash explains that the desk collects, “over 30 biological signals including heart-rate, facial-expressions, and posture,” and then adjusts lighting, changes images on a screen and plays different sounds on a speaker to help the user destress.

Fast Company

Empatica, a startup co-founded by Prof. Rosalind Picard, is hoping to use the same data gathered by its wearable device Embrace, which “analyzes physiological signals to detect seizures,” to help people manage stress, reports Rina Raphael of Fast Company. “We’re developing the applications that can help people understand stress,” says Picard, “the technology is there.”


A study by MIT researchers finds that people who sweat during a low-pressure tasks performed better in stressful conditions than those who didn’t sweat, writes Martha of Money. “Our hypothesis is that the people who were getting a little bit stressed in the calibration [initial] round were getting mentally prepared to do the task,” says Prof. Tauhid Zaman.  

The Wall Street Journal

Prof. Tauhid Zaman writes for The Wall Street Journal about his research examining how biometric data could be used to help determine how people will perform under stress. Zaman and his colleagues found that “people who sweated when the stakes were low did the best when stakes were high.”

New York Times

Karen Weintraub writes for The New York Times about Professor Rosalind Picard’s work developing wearable, stress-measuring devices. “If you want to learn about human variability, measure stress,” says Picard.

Boston Globe

Karen Weintraub writes for The Boston Globe about Prof. Ki Ann Goosens’ work examining the intersection of stress and mental illness. Weintraub explains that Goosens’ latest work looks at whether the medications used to treat PTSD make biological sense. 


Sloan Lecturer Andrew Yap writes for WBUR’s Cognoscenti about how managers can avoid putting too much or too little stress on their employees. “Cultivating a work environment of energized employees thriving on ‘just the right amount of stress’ requires a deft touch,” Yap explains.