Smartphones can diagnose and treat some brain disorders

Girl with mobile phone (Credit: Colourbox)

Smartphones can be used for psychological tests and can give as reliable results as those of the controlled laboratory tests.

This research published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology.

About two years ago, researcher Josef Bless, a PhD in psychology at the University of Bergen, Norway, was listening to music on his phone when he suddenly got an idea. “I noticed that the sounds of the different instruments were distributed differently between the ears, and it struck me that this was very similar to the tests we routinely use in our laboratory to measure brain function. In dichotic listening, each ear is presented with a different syllable at the same time (one to the left and one to the right ear) and the listener has to say which syllable seems clearest. The test indicates which side of the brain is most active during language processing,” Bless explained.

The researchers launched the iPhone app, explained, for dichotic listening and launched it in the App Store in 2011 for free download. More than 1000 people downloaded the app in one year and nearly half of the users sent their test results to the researchers’ database.

Researchers compared the results of the first 167 test results and compared them with the results of 76 individuals tested in laboratories in Norway and Australia.

“We found that the results from the app were as reliable as those of the controlled laboratory tests. This means that smartphones can be used as a tool for psychological testing, opening up a wealth of exciting new possibilities,” said Bless.

“The app makes it possible to gather large volumes of data easily and inexpensively. I think we will see more and more psychological tests coming to smartphones,” he added.

iDichotic logoResearchers also developed a special version of iDichotic for schizophrenic patients, who suffer from auditory hallucinations (i.e. hear “voices”). The app also helps the patients to get rid of the illusory voices.

“Using a mobile app, patients can be tested and receive training at home, instead of having to come to our laboratory,” says Bless.

You can download the app on iTunes iDichotic.

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